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Otis the basset hound is lucky to have survived the week after getting lodged under the back step of his house overnight May 11.

Christine and Richard Jalbert, who live on Borden Drive, say their one-year-old short haired dog, who is about 55 pounds on three-inch legs went missing when they let him play in the backyard May 11.

“We let him outside because the weather was warmer and our yard is completely fenced,” Christine explained in an interview. She mentioned Otis isn’t a digger so wouldn’t have tunnelled his way out. When they checked on him after half an hour had passed, they noticed he was missing.

“We have a workshop outside and we are in a raised mobile home and we thought he could have gotten under there. We checked and checked again.”

Nothing.

The gate to the fence in the backyard was closed so it was difficult to see how the dog could have left the property unless he was scooped, she recounted.

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The Jalberts called the FM radio stations and posted to the Facebook page Yellowknife Lost/Found Pets about him going missing.

In a short time about 100 neighbours and residents saw the online notice, raised the alarm and went looking for him, she said.

Family members erected posters and went door-to-door to try to track down the dog.

At about 6 p.m. on May 12 and after roughly 36 hours, the Jalberts “by fluke” looked in their backyard again and heard what Christine described as a “mewling sound” near their graded walkway.

“Inside our yard we have steps that are four-by-four and that are stacked where you walk and step and walk and step and they are tiered up the side of the house,” she said.

“Somehow he got himself down under the end one and he was in a three-foot snowbank on top of it. We had to move the snow and ice to even break the wood apart to get him out.”

Part of the problem is that the dog rarely ever barks, so he didn’t give an audible noise.

Otis was frozen to the ground with swollen feet and legs and burns on his stomach from his contact on the ice and had his ears frozen down.

The Jalberts took Otis to Dr. Michael Hughes with the Yellowknife Veterinary Clinic who took him in immediately.

The vet thought Otis was panicked and couldn’t bark to indicate where he was located.

He was ultimately diagnosed with pneumonia.

“Basset hounds don’t really have any coat and it is a very short haired dog with skin almost like velvet,” she said.

“He is doing well now and was on some anti-inflammatories to try to protect his heart and lungs and to reduce the swelling. We took him back to the vet (Thursday) morning and he was put on antibiotics for his lungs and he was put on a course of antibiotics to take care of his burns.”

Christine said she spent every half hour of Otis’ first night at home waking him and walking him and massaging him to get his fluids back up.

“The vet said had he been under the steps much longer he wouldn’t have survived it,” she said. “A lot of things came into play at the right moment.

“We never felt such a sense of community since we’ve been in Yellowknife and we can’t thank people enough.”

Simon Whitehouse

Simon Whitehouse came to Yellowknife to work with Northern News Services in 2011. A through and through "County boy" from Prince Edward County, Ont., Simon obtained his journalism education at Algonquin...

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