For Angela Otiker's family, it was about the most horrific sound they could imagine: Their 7-year-old dog, Kay Kay, was trapped under their house, slowly dying of dehydration and hunger.
Yet they were helpless to do anything but listen to her cries.
"It was torture. We left the house because you couldn't listen to it. And it was torture for my other dog, too," Otiker said. The other dog, Abby, is Kay Kay's twin sister, both boxadors (boxer/Labrador).
The freak accident occured last Tuesday, when the twin dogs went out for a run and only Abby returned.
Otiker and her 14-year-old daughter, Jada, thought Kay Kay might have been hit by a car. After a few days, they "kind of settled with the fact something bad happened."
Then, on Sunday, they heard Kay Kay's cries for help. They were coming from underneath the house.
They contacted police, who sent a Jefferson City Animal Control officer. He determined Kay Kay had somehow managed to dig under a concrete slab at the front of the house, where a garage previously existed. She dug underground, all the way toward the center of the house.
But the hole had collapsed behind her. "There's no way you can get her out," the officer told her. Next, she called local firefighters, who told her: "She's too far back in there. I can't send a man in there." A general contractor came out next. "There's nothing we can do," he said.
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"She (Kay Kay) was crying, and her sister was literally tearing up the carpet to get to her," Angela Otiker said.
Angela Otiker, the new principal at South Elementary School, returned to work on Monday, despondent.
She told her secretary, Taryn Trippensee, about the ordeal. That evening, Taryn's husband, James, was at Otiker's house with a shovel, hoe and flashlight, ready to make a last-ditch effort to save Kay Kay.
"He dug and dug and dug. He kept stabbing the shovel up in the gravel under the concrete. After about an hour, her nose came out and he pulled her out. Literally, this man saved my dog's life last night. Her nose was all bloody and eyes are dirty, she had no food or water for days."
The freed dog drank more water than her stomach could handle. On Tuesday, Kay Kay was being treated by a local veterinarian and was reunited that evening with the Otikers, as well as her twin.
James and Taryn Trippensee are both heroes, Angela Otiker said.
"Everybody I told the story to has been crying," she said. "I've only lived in Jefferson City for three months, but the people in Jefferson City are the nicest I've ever met in my lifetime."