Jasmine the puppy might have perished on the ice on a bitter cold night had it not been for a little ingenuity and a lot of compassion from a couple of Maryland state troopers.
Linda Davis of Eldersburg wrote this week to Lt. Roy Neigh, commander of the Westminster barracks, to tell him that she and her 13-year-old daughter, Lisa, are grateful to the officers for saving their dog Feb. 9.
Ms. Davis said Jasmine, a 6-month-old bichon frise that had been the family's pet for only six weeks, slid down a steep, icy hill at the side of her house, and neither she nor Lisa could get to the whimpering animal.
The eight-pound puppy, one of a breed of toy spaniel covered with curly white fur, was unable to get back up the ice-covered hill in a wooded area near Liberty Reservoir.
Ms. Davis said she and her daughter tied a rope to a tree, placed a blanket on the ice for traction and chipped at the ice with a hammer. Lisa tried to climb down to the dog while holding on to the rope but was unable to keep her footing.
Ms. Davis called the state police barracks about 7:30 p.m., hoping some officers would have time to help between responding to numerous vehicle accidents on the ice-covered roads.
Ms. Davis said Tfc. James A. Hockett and Trooper Van K. Stitcher arrived at her house about 20 minutes later, much to her relief.
The troopers were unable to get their vehicles to the Davis house because of the ice and other vehicles blocking the lane. Using their flashlights, they walked the eighth of a mile up the steep road and driveway.
Ms. Davis said Trooper Hockett found a large branch from a tree and used it like a ski pole, punching through the icy crust to steady himself in his slow descent of the hill.
"As the officer got closer to the dog," Ms. Davis said, "the light from his flashlight scared her, and she tried to run away. I thought, 'Oh, no. Now she is going to run farther away.' "
Realizing the flashlight was startling the pup, the officer turned it off and depended on light provided by Trooper Stitcher, who remained at the top of the slope.
Reaching the bottom of the hill, Trooper Hockett called the dog. She went to him. Picking her up and using the tree branch as a staff, Trooper Hockett trekked back up the hill, stepping in the holes he had made on the way down.
At the top, he placed the shivering dog in the arms of Ms. Davis.
Ms. Davis wrote to Lieutenant Neigh: "I wish to thank Troopers Hockett and Stitcher and let them know that if they had not come that night, I believe our puppy might still be at the bottom of that hill."
She added, "I now keep her on a leash when she has to go out because I don't want to go through that again."