Maya, a 5-year-old golden retriever, was pulled from the bowels of an abyss Wednesday after slipping and falling down a 20-foot crevice east of Andrews Lake in San Juan County.
The pup was uninjured and in good spirts Wednesday night, said her owner, Carol Johnson of Durango.
“Maya is going to get a special dinner tonight,” Johnson said. “She’ll be fine. I’m probably more stressed out, and need a cocktail.”
The mishap occurred shortly before 11 a.m. about 20 minutes walking distance east of the lake, which is not far from Molas Pass.
Johnson said she and three other women were hiking with their dogs when they lost sight of Maya. They looked around and heard her whimpering at the bottom of a nearby crevice.
“I think she just went over to the grass area, and before she knew it, she just tumbled and rolled right down into the crevice,” Johnson said.
There was a trickle of water in the bottom, and it appeared to be part of an underground network of caves, she said. The opening was too steep and slippery to climb down, she said.
The group decided to call 911.
Donnie Curnow, with the Silverton-based San Juan County Search and Rescue, responded with ropes and a harness.
Curnow gave the women a quick lesson on how to lower him into the crevice before he belayed into the hole. Once inside, he harnessed the dog and had the ladies pull Maya up. They sent the line back down the hole, and he climbed out with their assistance.
“I just made a harness out of webbing for the dog,” Curnow said. “The dog was very scared and real friendly – just wanted to get out of there.”
It took about 25 minutes to complete the rescue, he said.
The experience was a good reminder about being prepared, Johnson said. She realized the importance of having a cellphone in the event of an emergency, and she wished she would have had a rope and a tourniquet.
“I think we owe Don a steak dinner,” she said. “We were very appreciative. The fact that he was willing to drive out there to rescue a dog. I felt bad, but I was glad somebody came out to help us.”