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Firefighters excavate Graton pipe to rescue trapped dog

  • Veronica, a 4-year-old Treeing Walker Coonhound was trapped in an 18-inch culvert near her home on Bones Road on Wednesday, Sept. 26, 2012.

Veronica's owners aren't sure how long she spent wedged in the 18-inch culvert that runs under their rural Graton road, nor what she endured as the hours passed and help did not arrive.

As day turned to night turned to day again, the 4-year-old hound must have heard them call her name, if not Diane Albracht's quiet nighttime sobs while she wondered what had become of her beloved dog.

By Wednesday morning, a day after Veronica escaped through an open gate, Albracht and her husband, David, were becoming increasingly worried by the distant, occasional barking that echoed through their valley.

Graton Dog Rescue

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"I said, 'David, she's fading. She's fading,' " Diane Albracht recalled.

But that evening, Veronica and her owners would be reunited after the Albrachts pinpointed her underground location and Graton firefighters answered their call for help, digging into the rocky hillside to free the exhausted hound.

"I don't think she would have survived another night," Albracht said Thursday, as Veronica lay nearby, still recovering from her ordeal.

Veronica, a rescued Walker hound who has lived with the Albrachts for three years, gets long walks every day but otherwise lives inside the fencing on the Albrachts' three-acre property off Bone Road.

Diane Albracht let her out into the yard around 7 a.m. Tuesday but, busy preparing for a family reunion at the house this weekend, didn't think about her again until her granddaughter, Chloe, arrived for her usual 9:30 a.m. playtime.

It was then Albracht discovered the open gate and began searching the wooded neighborhood off Green Valley Road.

Albracht heard barking Tuesday afternoon from her home in a bowl-shaped valley that she thought might have been Veronica.


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