Letter to the Editor

Local responders did a wonderful job

Thursday, April 15, 2010

To the Editor:

About five days ago, an unfamiliar dog wandered onto our property. This was certainly not the first time that this had happened to us in our 34 years as rural residents of Putnam County, but the rest of the story was totally new.

How do we know when the dog arrived? Each morning began, each day was periodically interrupted, and each evening ended with its mournful, distressed cries and whimpers from what seemed somewhere in the nearby woods.

Finally, after several unsuccessful days of intermittent searching between chores and other tasks, we found it on Wednesday morning -- from the vantage point of our canoe. It was in a frightened crouch, on a narrow ledge just a bit longer than its body, 40 feet up a 60 foot sheer stone cliff that overlooks our pond.

We generally prefer taking care of our own problems, but we immediately knew from the first look that we were outclassed by this one. Before this frightened, hungry, and dehydrated dog's ordeal had ended in the early afternoon, the Madison Township, Greencastle, and Cloverdale fire departments had made contributions to the effort as well as personnel from the Putnam County Sheriff's Animal Control program and most importantly, personnel trained in rappel and high-angle rescue techniques from the correctional facility in Putnamville.

Yes, it was just a dog, but he was a happy dog, much relieved to be freely stretching his legs, when he departed -- and some among the rescuers had already volunteered a home should he go unclaimed.

We ourselves took away some comfort from the experience, knowing that tax dollars and citizen and community donations make and keep such services at the ready -- most often for human need and distress, but obviously, not exclusively so.

The tenacity of these volunteers and professionals to their goal of safely retrieving this dog reminded us of Mohandas Gandhi's observation that a society can be measured by how well its people treat its animals.

We haven't had to call upon the skills of these public servants in over a quarter century of living in Putnam County, but we were glad to discover their readiness to help when need came to us in the form that it did.

Thanks to all of you mentioned above who were here on Wednesday!

Steve and Linda Raines