CRAVEN COUNTY, N.C. -- Jeremy Brown thought he had seen everything as chief of the Harlowe Volunteer Fire Department.
That was until Saturday morning.
A group of volunteer firefighters needed more than an hour to rescue a dog that had gotten its head stuck in the bottom of a hollowed-out tree.
"We've never been taught anything about extricating a dog from a tree," Brown said. "We're good at cars, not at trees. There's no textbook to tell you how to extricate a dog from a tree."
Brown said the dog, named Rocky, is just fine, especially considering its ordeal.
"The biggest thing is that we saved the dog's life," he said. "The dog's fine, no injuries, no nothing."
Michael Adams Sr., the dog's owner, said his fiance, Viktoriya Gillikin, let the family's two dogs out of the house about 6:30 a.m. Saturday, but only one came back.
"That's unusual because they're always together," he said.
He said the family went looking for Rocky and couldn't find their six-month-old pup. Adams said a neighbor walking his own dog heard some whining from the woods and found the dog.
"I think he was chasing a squirrel," Adams said of Rocky, a lab-pit bull mix. "But he ran right in there so fast that he got pinned. We tried to dig him out but we couldn't pull him out."
That's when Brown received a phone call about the trapped dog, but he could not imagine what he found when he arrived at the tree off Belangia Road in eastern Craven County.
"One of the neighbors asked how we were going to get the dog out, and I said 'I don't know,'" Brown said.
Brown called for his equipment truck, which has chain saws and extrication equipment such as the Jaws of Life.
He said he and nine of his volunteers determined that the 40-foot oak tree was hollow at the bottom and proceeded to saw the tree down about three feet above where the dog was stuck.
With the top of the tree gone, they could see into the bottom of the hollowed-out tree and realized the dog was pinned between a root and a section of the 4-foot wide tree, Brown said.
Crews then began sawing through the sides of the tree and used the Jaws of Life to peel and pry open the tree down the sides. They were then able to free the dog to the cheers of a crowd that had gathered to watch the rescue.
"He was a happy dog. That's for sure," Adams said. "He was leaping all over them."
Brown said despite all the commotion going on, Rocky remained calm during the rescue.
"The dog tried to move a little, but then stayed still. It was incredible," Brown said. "Considering the saws and everything going on around him, he remained calm. Apparently he knew we were trying to help him."
Adams said his family can't thank Brown and his volunteers enough.
"Those guys did a real good job getting him out. It was a job," Adams said. "We appreciate what they did."
Brown said the rescue produced a good feeling among the volunteers, too.
"I've been doing this for 14 years, and I've never had to extricate a dog from a tree," Brown said. "It was unreal."
Republished with permission of The Havelock News.