On April 16, 2018, Abbot Philip left for Mexico early in the morning. One of the brothers took Rosco, Thumper and Benny for a walk, but did not use a leash. As soon as Thumper and Benny got outside the cloister they disappeared.
Brothers looked for Thumper and Benny assiduously for many days. They put up signs in all the camping areas, in the local post offices and in Bode’s Store in Abiquiu.
Abbot Philip returned on April 23rd and the dogs had not been found. Some brothers presumed they were dead. Others hoped that they had hitched a ride with someone and would be brought back eventually.
On April 28th, two men were boating and camped out about 4 or 5 miles north of the monastery, on the Chama River. They heard what they thought might be two dogs barking in the cliffs above them. They wondered why dogs were there above them. The next day they hiked as high as they could and could only get to a level where they could see the face of a dog, trapped in the cliffs. But they were sure they could hear a second dog barking. When they boated past the monastery on Sunday afternoon, April 29th, they stopped and spoke to a woman about what they had heard and seen. She brought them to the abbot. They made a map on a topographical internet map and it was almost totally accurate for where the one dog was trapped.
We know now that it was Benny who got trapped on the cliff side about 4 miles north of the monastery. He could not go down because there was a 100 foot cliff. He could not go back up because it was too steep. He surely tried to go up because his toenails are now very short and they were not that way before he left. Providentially it rained in these past two weeks and there was a puddle of water in the same area where Benny was trapped. When boaters would go by down below, he would bark. We don’t know how many days he was there, but he lost 16 pounds, about one quarter of his weight.
As far as we can tell, Thumper stayed there with Benny just to comfort him, but was not trapped. He also would bark when boats would go by below. Thumper was free. Still he had practically no food, but access to water. Thumper lost 6 pounds, about one sixth of his weight.
Sunday afternoon, the 29th, Prior Benedict immediately went with the two boaters and drove to the top of the cliffs. They found Benny and were able to get down to him on the edge of the cliff and bring him up. When they looked for where Thumper had been, he was no longer there. It was getting dark and late and so they came home.
Monday, the 30th, Prior Benedict, Brother Isidore, Brother Savio and Brother John Ha drove back up to the top of the cliffs and spent the whole day looking for Thumper. No luck at all. They got home about 5:00 pm.
Thumper came walking in about 7:00 pm on Monday evening, May 30th.
Perhaps when people showed up and rescued Benny, then Thumper started home. Something like that.
Benny is now at 48 pounds. His food is being increased very slowly so that he does not get sick from too much rich food too son. He is full of life and wanting to play and walk a lot.
Thumper looks as if he just returned from a spa. He is just the weight that he should be, at 28 pounds, and he looks good.
What a story! What a blessing. And it is a miracle that after almost two full weeks both Thumper and Benny returned home and are in good health. There seem to be no wounds on their bodies. Each of them had some pine pitch in various places on their coats.
– Abbot Philip Lawrence, O.S.B.