NORTH OGDEN — It’s not uncommon for Bruce and Kathi Engelby’s dog Bungee to run off for an hour or two at a time. She’s an English setter and loves to run.
But when Bungee disappeared June 27 and didn’t come back after a couple of hours, the Englebys began to worry.
“She (Bungee) was convinced there was a squirrel under my truck. I was going in and out (of the house), and then she was just gone,” Bruce said as he recounted how Bungee disappeared at his veterinary practice in North Ogden.
“She goes on walkabout every once in awhile, but this time she seemed to just disappear into thin air,” he said.
He and his wife called all the shelters, checked with neighbors and combed the area looking for their 10-year-old dog. They also made flyers and posted them at area businesses, to get the word out about her disappearance.
“She is microchipped and has a rabies tag, so we knew we could be found if someone wanted to get her to us,” Bruce said.
Kathi said “it was so bizarre,” because Bungee had seemed “frozen under the car” in her search for a squirrel that day.
Dense oak brush surrounds the Engelbys’ home in the northernmost part of Pleasant View, so it’s difficult to see far enough to find her, he said.
Both he and Kathi had come to the conclusion that either someone had taken Bungee or she had chased something into the mountains and hadn’t survived.
“I hoped that either she (died) quickly or that some nice, old lady had her and was taking care of her,” Bruce said.
But, luckily for the Engelbys and for Bungee, someone was in the right place at the right time. On the morning of July 21, Jan Braegger and her husband were exploring mines in Ridge Canyon north of the Engelbys’ home.
The couple traveled about 200 feet into a mine and noticed a shaft. When they shone their flashlight down the shaft, they were shocked to see a dog looking back at them from about a 6-foot dropoff.
“The surprising thing is, they didn’t hear her bark first — they just shined their light on her,” Bruce said.
Jan Braegger, who wasn’t available for comment, told Bruce she was flabbergasted when they saw Bungee. They didn’t dare try to rescue her themselves, not knowing if they could get back out of the shaft safely with her. Instead, they immediately left the area and went for help.
Local police officials tried to find the mine but were unsuccessful, so the Weber County Search and Rescue climbing team was called. Braegger accompanied them to the mine to help them find Bungee.
Ironically, Bruce is a volunteer with the climbing group. Had he been in town, he would have been on the rescue team to save his own dog.
While all this was going on, Kathi noticed a number of search and rescue vehicles using her driveway to gain access up the mountain. She naturally wondered what was going on.
“I figured if they were using my driveway, they wouldn’t mind telling me who was lost and what was happening,” Kathi said, laughing.
As she approached the scene, she saw a group of rescuers crowded around a dog. Then she saw it was Bungee.
“I was just in shock,” Kathi said. “It was just not what I had expected.”
Both she and Bruce thought they would never see Bungee again. She remembers thinking as she looked at the dog, “OK, she is walking, she must be OK. But am I dreaming?”
Because Bruce was out of town and in a remote location, she wasn’t able to let him know until a few days later that Bungee had been found.
“I was ecstatic, sitting on the top of a mountain, bawling like a little baby,” Bruce said.
Kathi brought Bungee into Bruce’s clinic to have blood work done and found that the dog was in relatively good shape. She had lost about 12 pounds, about a third of her body weight, and was a bit frail. But because there had been ground water in the bottom of the shaft, she wasn’t dehydrated.
“We just feel really lucky,” Kathi said.
Bungee is still recuperating, but Bruce said she’s the same shy, happy, running dog she has always been.
The Engelbys feel a huge debt of gratitude to Braegger for having the diligence to make sure Bungee was returned home safely and for just being aware enough of her surroundings to find their dog.
“She is just a really cool lady,” Bruce said, marveling at their good fortune. “There were so many things that had to come together.”