Annabelle lay pinned in a tangle of underbrush, bleeding and in shock, 30 feet down an icy embankment and out of reach of her constant companion, a 5-year-old like herself.
Unattended, Annabelle might have died within 6 to 12 hours in the dangerous cold. But Jock spied an Orange police officer across an open field, frantically called out, and led the startled rescuer to his beloved Annabelle, authorities said.
If every dog has his day, this was it for Jock and Annabelle. The pair are cream-colored Scottish terriers, half-siblings but 100 percent devoted, and the tale of Annabelle’s narrow escape has townspeople shaking their heads.
“Jock is Annabelle’s hero,” said Jennifer Arsenault, an animal control officer who witnessed the rescue. “They will go above and beyond to help their own.”
The adventure began as the dogs’ owner was taken to the hospital by emergency personnel Tuesday morning, officials said. The terriers slipped away from their Central Massachusetts home during the commotion, eluding the efforts of police Officer Chris Bisceglia to corral them into the house.
Wind-chill readings had plummeted below zero — daunting, even for hardy terriers — and Bisceglia returned to the neighborhood later to look for the dogs. What he found was an unforgettable lesson in canine cunning.
As Bisceglia drove along Jones Cemetery Road, he spotted wee Jock in an open field. Bisceglia stopped, and Jock barked with what seemed like a message instead of malevolence.
Bisceglia had no way of knowing the situation, but the barking seemed odd to him, Arsenault said. Earlier, when he had tried to coax the dogs inside, they hadn’t made this fuss. But this time, Jock was insistent and on a mission.
With Bisceglia in pursuit, Jock would run across the field for a short distance, look back, and bark again. “He pretty much said, ‘Hey, I need you over here,’ ” Arsenault recalled with a chuckle.
At the top of the embankment, Bisceglia finally spied what Jock had been so worried about — injured Annabelle.
Jock “wouldn’t run away,” said Orange Police Chief Craig Lundgren. “It was just standing at the top of the embankment waiting for its little buddy.”
A firefighter arrived with a ladder, the rescue team descended, and Annabelle was untangled from her trap. She was bleeding from an ear and walked with a slight limp.
As the drama unfolded, Jock watched patiently from a blanket that Arsenault had placed at the top of the slope.
“I got him on a leash and was going to bring him to my car and keep him warm, but he really didn’t want to come,” Arsenault said. Instead, Jock waited loyally for his best friend and half-sister.
Once in the car, Arsenault said, “they pretty much laid down and napped. I think they were relieved.”
Annabelle was transported to Adams Animal Hospital in Athol, where Dr. Kim Wheeler cleaned her up and provided antibiotics. No hypothermia, no stitches, but one fortunate pet to have such a devoted companion.
Jock — “quite a goofball,” Wheeler said — kept Annabelle company. “She did great. She did especially well because she had her brother with her,” the veterinarian said.
Wheeler, who has four dogs herself, said she is not surprised by the adventure that seemed to surprise nearly everyone else.
“Dogs have a whole spectrum of emotions, like people,” Wheeler said. “They can feel fear, they can feel pain, they can feel sadness. And in a case of family, they certainly can bond and look out for one another.”
The terriers displayed that affection when Arsenault brought them back to the North Quabbin Regional Animal Control office after Annabelle’s treatment.
“If one would go to the other end of the room, the other would be watching,” Arsenault said.
The dogs are home again, following a Wednesday visit to the police station, where Lundgren deemed them “very friendly.”