This may sound like a funny tale, but I assure you it's not if you have been in this situation. It is very easy to get stuck -- head down and feet up -- in a hole, and it is an especially dangerous situation if you dig alone. In this position your entire weight is driving you down and there is very little to grab on to.
Terriers by Bryan Kidd
The Countrymans Weekly
April 26, 2002
I HAVE been a rescue rep for the North Yorks Moors Working Terrier Club since 1979 and have also worked terriers with the Goathland and Glaisdale Foxhounds. I have kept a diary of many rescues over the years and one that comes to mind is the time I got stuck, as well as the terrier!
This incident occurred on Monday, January 9, 1984. I had received a phone call from Paul Prouse, terrierman to the Farndale Foxhounds, on the Sunday night. He had two terriers stuck in a rock hole. They had been entered at noon on Saturday when a fox was run to ground by hounds.
When Monday morning dawned, I found we had a fair covering of snow overnight. I picked up one of the lads and we struggled to get to the dig in Farndale, high on the Yorkshire moors. Eight members were already at the dig. They had a tunnel into the side of the hill and three men were out of sight up the hole.
This hole seemed to be an old stream bed that narrowed down to about two feet wide, with a steep drop at the end. The walls were solid rock at the end, so we couldn't make it any wider without heavy drills. We could hear a dog whining but couldn't look over the drop as it was out of reach and too tight. While we were considering our options, the farmer came and told us he had spoken to the old, retired keeper who'd had a dog stuck in this same spot 14-years earlier. He told the farmer they had dug in from the top and, when they backfilled, they filled the hole with a big rock at the bottom and railway sleepers and soil.
We opened a big area up to the depth of three feet and found loose soil and rocks that had been out before. We then found the old rotten sleepers and bigger rocks. After four hours we were down to a big rock and, after getting a rope round it, we pulled it out to reveal a large hole.
A lad crawled in and said he could see a dog about ten feet below, I said I would try and crawl down the crack to the dog. I was going down at a very steep angle and was quite near the dog who had been bitten and was curled up on a rock with a drop below her. I coaxed her to me and grabbed her.
She stood up on her back legs and I passed her out over my body. She was very tired and cold. Soil began to fall on me from above as I shone the torch up the crack, to see the other terrier, about eight feet above me. I scrambled about and got within inches of the dog, but he backed off. I sent the word back to the lads behind me: "Send me a sandwich." Ron Hodgson proclaimed: "He's having his bloody dinner down there!"
I got a chocolate biscuit and, as the dog came to take it, I grabbed him by the locator collar. I couldn't pass him over me because of the roof so I eased down a bit - big mistake!
As I gave the dog to the man behind me, I slipped down the crack and got wedged tight. I was nearly stood on my head and had one hand on a ledge stopping me going down any further.
I was stuck fast and couldn't move at all. The lad behind tried pulling my legs, but to no avail. Paul Prouse got in and secured a rope around my ankles and told the lads to pull. They nearly pulled my feet off, but still I was stuck.
After 40-minutes they were talking about calling out the cave rescue team. I was aching from being twisted and my wrist was aching from taking my weight. Paul got a knife and cut off my wax overtrousers and pulled off my wellies. This gave me a bit of room and I tried to shuffle out of my thick cardigan, but couldn't manoeuvre.
I was getting very frightened by this time, as I couldn't see how I was going to get out.
Frank Glasper suggested giving me a rope to pull on with my free hand, I tried and got a bit more movement. I summoned all my strength and pulled as hard as I could.
I began to raise so I spread my elbows, took a breather and pulled again. I got to a level where I could back up and the lads pulled me free.
I turned around and crawled out and collapsed, lying in the snow on my belly - I was exhausted.
After some hot soup I recovered, while the lads backfilled that terrible place. One of the lads said that the club should order a 16-inch terrier collar with a bleeper on to put on 'Kiddo the rescue rep,' to much laughter.
Both dogs and man made a full recovery.