Dog takes a clue from ‘Lassie’


Best birthday ever.

That’s how Newport Beach resident Wendy Gerdau summed up her 51st.

Her wild week started on Monday, when one of the family’s twodogs mysteriously disappeared, only to resurface alive and well on Gerdau’s birthday, which was Thursday.

“We came home from dinner Monday night. Only one dog was in the backyard,” Gerdau said. “We couldn’t figure it out.”

The Gerdau family has two golden Labradors: Buddy, 12, and Annie, 1.

She described the pair as inseparable since they adopted Annie from the pound in December. They have a “Doggie Duplex,” as Gerdau likes to call the place in the backyard where the Labs sleep.


Usually, Annie just goes and sleeps with Buddy in his room.

But when the Gerdaus came home to their house on Bamboo Street in Eastbluff on Monday to find Buddy gone, they figured that maybe the wind blew the back gate open or someone had left it open.

Buddy has collar tags and a microchip with contact information under his skin, so he was bound to turn up, she said.

They heard nothing for the rest of the day Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday. The family then posted missing posters.

All the while, all they had to do was pay attention to what Annie was trying to tell them.

“It was so weird, though,” Gerdau said. “The dog would be sitting with her back to me and her back to the house and just staring in that direction.” It was toward the backyard.

They soon find out Annie was signaling that Buddy had fallen down a hole. Cue the “Lassie” theme.

“It was just like that!” Gerdau said.

On Thursday, when Gerdau celebrated her birthday with her family, her one wish was to find Buddy.

Later that day her kids were playing soccer in the backyard, where Annie stopped in mid-run and calmly walked to an 18-foot hole on the back slope of the yard, which leads toward Eastbluff Drive. A brush and trees concealed the hole.

Gerdau and her kids called for Buddy, but didn’t hear anything. Still, Gerdau said, she had a gut feeling that Buddy was there.

So after calling animal control, Gerdau called the Fire Department.

Sure enough, Buddy was down there, his paws pinned under collapsed walls.

Turns out the hole was part of an old drainage system behind the homes, she said.

Firefighters pulled Buddy out of the hole, uninjured. After being treated by veterinarians, he was returned home Friday, no worse for wear.

Talk about a birthday wish come true.

“Best birthday ever,” Gerdau said.