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Associated Press Ambulance just happened to be passing by

KALISPELL (AP) - Elizabeth Jones' dog Bandit is surely one of the luckiest dogs alive.

"Alive" was in serious doubt for a while after Bandit tumbled over a 240-foot rock cliff near here on April 14. But he is at home in Gig Harbor, Wash., now, and his veterinarian says he's young and his injuries should heal.

He suffered massive lung bruises, internal bleeding, bladder shock and deep cuts.

The 1-year-old sheltie-shepherd cross can thank his dedicated owner, two paramedics with an ambulance, and a Kila veterinarian who didn't mind a pre-dawn emergency call.

Elizabeth and Larry Don Jones, truckers from Gig Harbor, stopped during a blinding snowstorm in the early morning hours of April 14 along U.S. 2 west of Kila. They wanted to give Bandit and his companion, Buford T. Justice, a potty break.

Buford returned promptly, but alone.

Elizabeth Jones, a cancer patient undergoing radiation and chemotherapy for a December mastectomy, followed the dogs' tracks and spotted Bandit far below. Ignoring the cold, she slid down the steep embankment after him, then tried to carry him back up the cliff in her coat.

"But I was so weak from my cancer treatments, and so cold, because I don't have any hair, had no hat on, and had the dog in my coat, that I was out of breath."

Back on the highway, Larry Jones signaled some oncoming headlights to stop - and watched an ambulance emerge from the darkness.

Gary Troutman and Bill Miles were headed home to Marion after taking a patient to Kalispell Regional Medical Center.

Troutman radioed the Flathead County sheriff's dispatcher to call a veterinarian. Miles put on his cold-weather gear, grabbed a radio and flashlight and went down the cliff to Elizabeth and Bandit. He and Troutman lifted the woman and the dog and loaded them into the ambulance.

Dr. Barbara Calm met them at her clinic at 2:44 a.m.

"Those paramedics did a great job," she said. "They gave the dog oxygen, kept it warm and still, and had managed to get some vitals by the time they got to the clinic."

Calm gave the dog every treatment she had, from fluids to acupuncture.

"Neither the Joneses nor the paramedics were willing to leave," she said. "After many tense hours, Bandit decided to live and begin to get better."

Bandit went home three days later.

"Bandit is a wonderful dog who hasn't left my side since my husband got him for me in Wyoming, just after I learned about my breast cancer and the dim prognosis that I might not live too long," said Elizabeth Jones. "I couldn't bear to think of losing him."

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