A dog owner says he'll be forever grateful to two dog lovers who were in the right place at the right time to save his pooch after it took a fall off a cliff on the East Coast Trail in eastern Newfoundland.
Paul March and his boxer Lucy were out for a hike on the trail between Witless Bay and Bay Bulls on Thursday. The dog was off-leash and ran ahead, which March said was normal for one of their outings. But he started to get worried when she didn't come back right away when he called.
March, along with some fellow hikers, searched for Lucy, and eventually discovered she had fallen off the edge of a cliff and was stranded on the rocky edge of the ocean below.
"I was a mess because she always comes back, and I have a collar on her that vibrates around her neck and gets her attention in case I need to," he said.
"My dog is my best friend — she's my buddy. We play together, she hikes with me, we go everywhere together, and to look down in the cove there and see her clinging to the rock and periodically being washed off and swim back again it was just heartbreaking knowing that I couldn't do anything."
March called the RCMP and local fire rescue crews to help. When the situation had gone out over the radio, Amy Costello and her husband Darryl overheard the dog's plight on their boat's scanner.
Dog lovers to the rescue
Costello and her husband were only a few minutes away from where Lucy was stranded, and pulled up their fishing lines to high-tail it to her location.
'To jump into that frigid water and start swimming, that was unbelievable to see somebody do that' - Paul March, Lucy's owner
"There was a good swell on, and we've got a 21-foot boat and we couldn't get real close to where she was, so my husband manoeuvered the boat for 10 minutes trying to figure it out, but, I mean, there was no way we were gonna get in," said Costello.
When they realized their boat wasn't able to get close enough to pull the dog on board, Costello decided she'd take a dip in the icy Atlantic to get her.
"She's a 70 or 80 pound dog and I'm not a real … you know, big dogs are kind of scary, so when I got out to the cliff I just kind of talked to her for two or three minutes and she was frightened to death, but finally she put her head down and put the paw up and I knew she knew I was there to help her. So I grabbed her by the paw and grabbed her by the collar and she kinda jumped in my arms at that moment," said Costello.
Lucky for Lucy, Costello had a dog life preserver aboard the boat for her large-sized dog. She strapped it around the distressed boxer, and together they swam to the boat.
Costello added that without the life-preserver, she doubts she would have been able to get the dog to the boat at all.
March said the ordeal was traumatic for both dog and owner, but he is grateful to Costello for jumping into action to help Lucy.
"To jump into that frigid water and start swimming, that was unbelievable to see somebody do that," said March.
"Lucy is doing fine. She's as traumatized as I am about it, she hasn't left my side. We are just so relieved that Darryl and Amy were there and were able to help us out, and then to just see Amy swimming back to the boat and with the dog life-preserver on [the dog], it was just so heart-warming at that point."
He said while Lucy is obedient while off-leash and he's never had trouble getting her to come back before, he intends to keep her on leash for their next excursion.