The golden retriever was walking off leash when her owner lost sight of her

By Amy Jamieson
Updated February 19, 2016 09:41 PM

It was the best bark the Holmes family has ever heard.

A day after she went missing at the The Arboretum at Penn State in Pennsylvania, Skye the golden retriever could be heard barking from the bottom of a 14-foot sink hole, confirming that the family’s worst fears hadn’t been realized.

‘Oh, it’s the most fantastic feeling hearing her,” Ron Holmes told the Centre Daily, who first reported the story. “I was so sick last night thinking she was gone. I thought she would have drowned if she was somewhere down there or suffered hypothermia.”

During a snowstorm on Monday evening, Megan Holmes, along with a neighbor and their dog, took Skye out for what they thought was a regular jaunt. But when they took the dogs off leash something scary happened, the report said.

“We understand we were in the wrong to let her off leash,” Ron said. “She’s so good about staying close, and all of a sudden she was gone.”

The family quickly learned that there are sinkholes throughout the Arboretum and Ron told the newspaper he discovered one right near where Skye went missing.

“I got as close as I could, yelled down and couldn’t hear anything because of the gushing water,” he said. “I thought that could explain how she disappeared.”

When the Holmes’ returned to look for her on Wednesday, they heard barking coming from the same spot and that’s when the Alpha Fire Company and Penn State police were called on to help.

Described as a “Volkswagen buggy-sized hole” by Centre Region Council of Governments fire director Steve Bair, the rescuers accessed the situation and decided on a unique approach.

“On the fly we constructed a harness for the dog,” Bair told the Centre Daily. “[Skye] was in good shape, which was helpful for the rescue. [She] kind of sensed what was happening and was very cooperative.”

Alpha Fire Company assistant chief of training and operations Dennis Harris climbed down the sinkhole with a ladder and hooked Skye up to the harness which lifted her to safety, the report said.

Ron Holmes says the dog is doing fine and that the pup’s ordeal will keep people and other dogs safe in the future.

“There’s a good thing that comes out of it, I think,” he said. “That sinkhole got located, and they’ll fill it so no one will fall down it.”