He was exhausted and in shock, but he emerged otherwise unharmed.
black cocker spaniel that was trapped underground
Credit: curto / Adobe Stock

Poor Winston the black cocker spaniel didn't just have a bad day, he had three of them, in a row, stuck underground in an abandoned badger habitat. In order to tell you about it, I get to use a massively British sentence:

Winston was exploring Diamond Jubilee Wood in Normanton Le Heath on Feb. 26 when he disappeared down a badger sett (burrow). The poor pupper became trapped and unable to climb back out, so his family, Heather and Alex Peake, called the RSPCA for help, according to the BBC. Even though they knew more or less where Winston was, the rescue wasn't so simple. British law prohibits people from disturbing Badger setts, so Winston had to be down there for 48 hours before a rescue could begin. Even then, rescuers had to secure a license from Natural England to dig Winston out.

Finally, right before noon Tuesday, Leicestershire Fire and Rescue Service began its rescue operation.

The work began with specialized listening equipment to see if they could detect movement underground. Once they were able to determine where in the sett he was, teams began digging and, after nearly five hours of work, Winston's mud-caked head broke the surface.

"The last few days had been awful," Heather Peake told the BBC. "When the firefighters began searching we really thought we had already lost him and we were mentally preparing ourselves for the worst. I just burst into more tears when we finally saw his little face poking out of the mud."

After being freed from the subterranean prison where he'd spent the last 60 hours, Winston headed to the RSPCA for an examination before returning home with his family. The pupper was "exhausted and in shock" but happy to be home and recovering well.

"The fire service did an amazing job carefully digging him out of the tunnel," RSPCA inspector Sue Haywood told the BBC. "The moment he was finally rescued was just brilliant—we were all just over the moon, and despite his ordeal he was relatively unscathed."