Dog Survives 400-Foot Fall from Cliff
Never doubt the unconditional love of doggie parents for an injured canine.
Roxanne Peggie and Barry Blyther, natives of Scotland, took their German Pointer, Rover, and English Pointer, Rudy, on vacation to Northern Ireland last week. At a Limavady rest stop they let the pups exit their automobile. Rudy was able to stop when she reached the overlook and realized the extent of the drop. Rover was not as quick to gage the danger. He free-fell about 250 feet (76 meters) and landed on a small ledge by his front paws and face, but could not hang on.
Shock and Disbelief
When Peggie ran to the wall she made it in time to watch helplessly as Rover fell another 150 feet (46 meters) landing on rocks and bramble. When asked her reaction when she realized Rover bounded over the wall, Peggie replied: “This is indescribable… we didn’t realise the gravity of the situation until we got to the wall and looked over only to see Rover’s head and front paws on a narrow ledge and the rest of him hanging over. He instantly lost his grip, and fell out of sight.”
She went on to tell me “Our instant reaction was to assume him dead and frankly, we began to mourn. He couldn’t survive! I expected to recover a corpse.”
Peggie later discovered that two weeks earlier two Labradors had done the same thing in the same spot. Both died instantly. Peggie told me there are no warning signs posted at the Benevenagh scenic mountain viewpoint.
When the couple realized Rover was still alive, they called police for assistance but were told, as no human was injured, they would not provide any help. Peggie tells me this is not usual in the UK. They know of many police and rescue teams who have assisted with animal emergencies. “We just seemed to hit a less than animal-compassionate officer!” reports Peggie.
Despite a recent shoulder surgery that was still healing, Blyther went into auto pilot mode and descended the rough terrain to reach Rover. It took him 40 minutes. Rover was in such pain his screams were “blood curdling” and he could not be moved. It took Blyther more than another hour to climb back, all the while devising the best plan for fabricating a stretcher to carry Rover out of his hilly prison.
By the time they got everything they needed for a rescue attempt, it was nearly five hours since Rover’s fall. They made a stretcher out of two coats, a vacuum cleaner tube and some twine. Of course, at 9:00 p.m., they also needed torches to light their way. It took five people another few hours, working together, to rescue Rover from the rocks.
A Limavedy veterinarian examined Rover, treated him for shock with fluids and provided pain relief. Peggie and Blyther were delighted to be informed the next day Rover had no internal injuries or broken bones other than a vertebral injury. He was released to the couple and they traveled back to Scotland and to their personal veterinarian for follow up care.
Despite the lack of cooperation from police at the fall site, Peggie reports everyone else they came into contact with were considerate and cooperative in helping Rover get the care he so desperately needed. The ferry boat line even held the ship for an hour so the family could board as soon as they reached the ship line.
Once back home, Dr. Lawrie — Rover’s personal veterinarian — diagnosed a second vertebral injury that was more serious than the first. It was actually crushed and putting pressure on Rover’s spinal cord causing paralysis. Rover was referred to Glasglow University Veterinary Hospital — a state of the art facility.
Doctors there informed Peggie and Blyther they had two choices. Opt for a delicate and expensive surgery or put Rover to sleep. Veterinary care is estimated to cost between £8,500 and £12,000 (about $13,000 – $19,000), a very steep amount — no pun intended.
After all they went through to save their beloved dog; Peggie and Blyther were devastated to discover Rover’s life depended on whether or not they could come up with that amount of money. Putting pride aside, they created a Facebook account for Rover and asked for donations.
The Price of Love and Determination
As of today, thanks to the generosity of strangers, they have managed to raise half of the amount required, £6,000. The hospital has agreed to start the MRI guided procedure tomorrow. Veterinarians at Glasglow University Veterinary Hospital say the success rate of this specific surgical procedure is 93% and they fully expect Rover to walk out of the hospital in about one week!
A remarkable story of a resilient rascal of a dog!
Picture of Rover in better days courtesy of Roxanne Peggie.