Pet Connections, Inc

Dedicated to animal rescue & rehabilitation, Old Lyme, CT

Success Story: Saving Boomer

Katie Robbins and Boomer

Everyone has seen the story in the news or on a television program. A person is lost, and the authorities call in the dogs to help in the search. But last month, it was the dog who was lost, and a person who found him.

The dog was Boomer, an 11-year-old lab with arthritis in the hips. Boomer had wandered away from his home and, despite searches by local volunteers, two weeks passed. It was assumed that Boomer had died, or was so far into the woods that he would never be found. But one person refused to give up the search.

"The lady's property is on a steep cliff," said Katie Robbins of Pet Connections. "Her property goes directly down. I think Boomer, being an older dog with arthritis in his hips, went down and just kept going."

Boomer either took up refuge in an old log or became stuck in it. 12 days would pass before he was found. When Katie and Pet Connections got the call about a missing dog, she went to assist in the search. She knew the area, but felt that after so much time had passed, she was looking for a body, not a survivor.

"I got a phone call that a dog was missing and it was up in Lyme," she said. "I actually grew up in Lyme, so I knew the area. For a couple of days I just went up and drove around to see if he was wandering around. I called the owner directly and asked if I could walk the property. She was very nice and said 'Absolutely.' My plan was to go up and walk outside the perimeter of her property.

Katie Robbins at the site

"I dropped my two girls of with a friend of mine, Susanne Coulton-Carey, and took her lab, Millie, with me. I brought some flagging to mark my trail. I started weaving my way down the outside of this lady’s property. I was looking for a body, after 12 days. I thought Millie would help me sniff something out. When I first got there, I heard a woof sound, very far away. When I was far down on her property, I heard the woof again. Then I started running. And there he was. He was stuck under a log, and to me looked surprisingly well."

But for Katie and Millie, finding Boomer was the easy part. Now, they had to transport a 70-pound canine over a hundred yards up a steep grade.

"He was very dehydrated. He couldn’t walk at all. I had an adrenaline rush and I picked him up and started running up the hill. I'm asthmatic. I made it a good 25 seconds, then I thought, 'Great! I'm gonna die on the hill with the dog.' I didn't know who I was going to call to help me get this dog off the hill."

Fortunately for Katie and Boomer, two good but anonymous Samaritans helped get all three up the hill. "He must have thought I was some crazy woman coming out of the woods," said Robbins. "I briefly told him the story and he was like 'Yeah, yeah. My friend's driving by and we just left this job.' The two of them came and we used my blanket like a stretcher. We carried him right out, put him in my car and I took him to the vet."

Even though Robbins and her two unknown assistants shouldered most of the heavy work, it was Millie who marched in the parade last week as an honored Hero Dog. Robbins is quick to point out that none of this might have happened if she had tried to rescue Boomer by herself. "I think the dog might have barked because he saw Millie," said Robbins. “She definitely was interested in helping. She stayed with us. I think she knew that something was wrong."


For Boomer, the adventure is over and what’s left is a well-deserved rest and further recuperation at Labs For Rescue in upstate New York. Millie marched in the Memorial Day Parade. Somewhere out there, two good men are doing whatever it is they do, and helping whenever they are asked. If people would like to help Pet Connections in Boomer’s honor, it’s an easy thing to do.

"If people would like to volunteer or foster, we need lots of help. Pet Connections has been in Old Lyme since 1989 and we definitely could use more help. Donations are great but what we need are fosters and volunteers. We need a shelter. We have the money to build one, but we need a piece of land donated."

If you'd like to help Pet Connections, call 860-434-4640, or write to Pet Connections, PO Box 1033, Old Lyme, CT.

Article by Terry Hargrove, Photos by Kim Tyler