There are few things as stressful as the moment you realize your pet has gone missing. Not only are you worried about the animal themselves, hoping beyond hope that they’re okay, but you may also feel some guilt over the idea that you didn’t do more to keep them safe. It’s every pet owner’s nightmare.
It’s also how one couple felt when their Labrador retriever just suddenly disappeared. After he’d been missing for a month, they began to assume the worst. Then they received news that was even more distressing…
When John and Cindy Billesberger’s beloved dog Bruno went missing in September 2016, they couldn’t find him in any of his usual spots. At first they were sure that the adventurous dog would eventually return, but then he didn’t…
After a month without any trace of Bruno, they began to fear the worst. The family, who lived in Estevan in Saskatchewan, Canada, grieved every day for their missing dog. They hoped he’d simply been picked up by another family. It was the only way to keep their sadness at bay.
Then, something strange happened. One day, when John was outside and about a half-mile from his house, another of their dogs showed a strange interest in one particular spot on their neighbor’s property.
John tried to force his pooch to move on, but the dog looked at him and refused to budge. When John started to walk away, the dog began to bark. That was when John decided to investigate…
When he saw what captured his other dog’s attention, he was stunned. It was a four-foot-wide, 10-foot-deep hole, which was likely an old well that had been dug up but later forgotten about.
The well itself was an interesting discovery, but that wasn’t why John and Cindy’s dog started to bark. You see, at the bottom of the well was Bruno—and he was, miraculously, still alive somehow after all that time!
John quickly took a visual inventory of his beloved missing dog and he could tell right away that Bruno was in bad shape. The poor pooch was on the verge of death. He couldn’t bark, and his eyes appeared sunken.
Crusty and infected, the poor dog had cuts and sores all over his body. He’d also sadly worn the pads off of his paws in his fruitless attempt to climb out. John knew he had to act fast…
John quickly called his son, who arrived at the scene just minutes later. His son tied a rope around his own waist and jumped down into the well, risking life and limb to save Bruno.
Bruno was in such a bad way that he didn’t recognize John’s son, and he seemed frightened. Still, John’s son spoke soothing words and scooped up the dog, lifting him out of the well before climbing out himself.
The Billesbergers drove the injured Bruno to the nearest veterinary hospital in Estevan and prayed that he could hold on just a little bit longer. When they arrived, even the veterinary technicians were stunned.
The workers rushed Bruno into the ER, hooked him up to IV fluids, and began treating his injuries. They struggled to come up with a treatment plan knowing that the dog’s chances of survival were very slim. Would he even make it?
Bruno was diagnosed as dehydrated, malnourished, and anemic, and that was only the tip of the iceberg. The team at the veterinary clinic knew that he would require round-the-clock care if there was to be any hope for his survival.
The workers noted that, in some ways, Bruno was lucky to have fallen in a well, especially since it had snowed; the little water he had there helped him hang on until he could be rescued. It was a strange but critical silver lining.
Bruno spent weeks recovering. Thankfully, he slowly started getting back to his old self again. Before too long, he was able to recognize the Billesbergers—and as soon as he did, his tail started wagging!
Both the staff at the hospital and Bruno’s family were so concerned about Bruno when he first arrived, and the mere fact that he was even alive was a miracle. They couldn’t get over how he was able to recover the way he did.
After 22 days of treatment, Bruno was finally well enough to go home! Sure, he was still a little weak and one of his paws was in a cast, but everyone agreed that the real medicine Bruno needed was love…
Cindy and John were overwhelmed with adoration for their dog and the people who helped him. “After seeing what he looked like when we brought him in and seeing the looks on the vets’ faces,” Cindy said, “every day—every moment—that he lived was another obstacle that [was] overcome.”
Bruno looked much better, but he had a long way to go. He was still battling refeeding syndrome, a potentially deadly disease that affects dogs recovering from starvation. Cindy said it was difficult to see him undernourished because he was so healthy before.
The Billesbergers weren’t the only ones who are happy to have Bruno back. John and Cindy remarked that their two other dogs were seriously depressed in the absence of their best friend. Thankfully, things were looking up!
Poor Bruno! Can you imagine being a half-mile from home, trapped, and completely helpless? Thank goodness they finally found him.
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