Heroic huntaway leads owner to trapped 'girlfriend'
A heroic huntaway decrepit from old age and riddled with arthritis has proven old dogs can learn new tricks.
Louie, a retired Central Otago farm dog, is being hailed a hero after saving his rabbit-chasing "girlfriend", Maddy, who got stuck in a hole under a large pile of brush pile on Saturday.
His heroic actions were brought to his family's attention on Saturday evening, as the elderly canine limped up his Alexandra driveway, puffing, sore, collapsing with exhaustion at the house. Around his neck was a cardboard note that read: "Louie is the hero of the day. He lead (sic) me to Maddy in distress stuck under a brush pile."
Louie's owner, Francie Diver, said her "very old dog" who was full of arthritis, had a circle of young girlfriends – one of whom was the neighbour's "little midget" Maddy. They hunt rabbits together across the rural properties on the outskirts of the township.
"Maddy comes over every day about 4.30pm to collect him and they head off down the driveway into the distance. On Saturday, he went missing. About 6pm he arrived home so exhausted and had a tag attached to his collar. I thought, 'where has he been? What has he done?' I immediately thought the worst."
Their neighbour Robert Kvick, who wrote the note, said Louie had outdone himself given his age and physical state.
"He is so old and decrepit he can hardly walk."
His dog, Maddy, had "free range" of the property when her owners were home and she often visited Louie, he said.
"After lunch, I had not seen her. I had to go into Alexandra for an appointment. She didn't come when I called. When I got back about 5.30pm there was still no sign of her."
He went to move his flood irrigation system at the back of the property and Louie was there, he said.
"I am familiar with animals and sensitive to how they think. It was very obvious what Louie was trying to do. He came to me huffing and puffing like a steam train. He followed me around until we got to the other side of the property. He led me to a brush pile – prunings from firewood trees and he started barking. I said, 'what's the matter Louie?' Then I heard a yelp from inside. He was very energetic trying to show me where Maddy was in the pile. She had got into a hole and couldn't get out again."
It was a bit of "neighbourly fun" attaching a note to Louie's collar, he said.
Diver said the family was extremely proud of their dog's heroic actions. Louie, aged about 12 and now retired from keeping the water rats out of crayfish ponds and stoats away from chickens, had once been full of energy, she said.
"We have had Louie since he was a pup. He spent the first two years of his life running us ragged. He had the longest legs. We thought it was never going to come right. If he got off his chain, he just ran. He dragged us everywhere. You could hear my husband screaming chasing after that dog."
The experience had left Louie "pooped" and the pair's rabbiting adventures had stopped – for now.