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LUCK LEADS TO DOG'S RESCUE FROM SHAFT

Rowdy the black Labrador retriever got lucky Friday the 13th. Missing for a month, he was rescued from a mine shaft atop a mountain.

By weight, he's half the dog he use to be. And he's dog-tired and hound-hungry, but safe.And lucky. He's lucky that Roy resident Dave Falls felt like goofing off Friday and lucky that Falls picked the mine shaft to investigate. He's lucky the posters his frantic owners put on telephone poles last month were still hanging together.

Rowdy's adventures started last month when he and his owner, Paul Benstog, went hiking in the mountains above their home. Rowdy took off as he always does. But he'd always come back, only that time he didn't.

Since then, the Benstogs, Paul, Lola and their two children, have checked the pound daily, hung posters and wandered around hollering "Rowdy!" at the top of their lungs.

Nothing.

After a month, they were beginning to hope the dog had either found a new home or was, mercifully, dead.

Friday, the 37-year-old Falls, and his son, Alan, 11, took the day off. Falls is self-employed and enjoys hiking the Hidden Valley area above Ogden, looking for mine test holes dug by the early pioneers.

They hiked up the mountain and found a shaft, about 15 feet deep and narrow. So down he went.

And found he wasn't alone.

"I felt someone was looking at me, so I had (Alan) throw the flashlight down," Falls said.

The shaft had a horizontal tunnel "and way in the back was this big black dog curled up, and I could see it lift its head and its tail was wagging. And I didn't know what to do."

The ceiling was too low to pick up the dog and carry it, Falls said. He explained that to the animal and "the dog stood up real slow, like, like something was pulling it up."

It walked very slowly to the mouth of the hole, then "turned around and looked at me like it was saying, `Please, get me out of here,' " Benstog said.

He and Alan did, walking and carrying the weak animal down the mountain. While en route, they ran into another man and told him their strange story. The man said another fellow had been looking for a big black dog in the area two weeks earlier.

He also directed them to posters on utility poles, which eventually led him to the Benstogs.

Lola Benstog said she rushed Rowdy to the North Ogden Animal Hospital, where Dr. Reed Hansen pronounced the dog tired, hungry, dehydrated but otherwise uninjured.

He said the dog, which weighed 80 pounds a month ago, was 37 pounds Friday.

Mrs. Benstog didn't leave Rowdy's side all Friday afternoon, her children huddled around.

"It's great, it's so nice to know and to see him again. He's really thin, but he's doing real good," she said.