(Courtesy of Daniel Shu)

Sarah Simpson column: Trapped Toby the hiking hound saved from cliff by Cowichan Search and Rescue

Also: would you trade your pet for $250,000?

The other day my husband and I had a lengthy conversation about what we’d do with our cat if we were offered $250,000 to give him away. Blame the internet. He saw it online and we got into hypotheticals. Rest assured Timber, AKA, Mr. Bite, is staying with us. (But I mean, I guess we’d be daft not to at least entertain six-figure offers?)

The truth is pets very quickly become part of our families. Even little goldfish tend to get mini-funerals before they get flushed. The first half dozen anyway. Timber is part of our family and at this point I’m pretty sure we wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m sure you feel the same way about your pets, if you have them.

That’s why I can’t imagine Daniel Shu’s stress levels when his beloved dog, Toby, fell off a cliff while they were hiking on Mount Tzouhalem on the evening of Sept. 25.

It had been a regular walk to the view point for Shu, his girlfriend, and Toby the five-year-old chocolate lab.

“We typically go on hikes with Toby off leash and never had any issues,” Shu explained. “After we took in the view we started to walk back and realized Toby wasn’t following us. We called for him for like 30 minutes walking up and down the trail.”

The polite pooch doesn’t really bark so it was a pretty solid game of hide and seek.

“At first we thought maybe he walked back or something or found some food, but for the amount of time that passed I began to feel like something was wrong,” Shu said. “So we walked back to where we last saw [him] and thought to wait there.”

It turned out to be a good idea.

“My girlfriend looked over the edge of the cliff and fortunately saw his tail about 10 feet below.”

Toby had fallen off the cliff, but by sheer luck, he landed on another, albeit crumbly cliff below. He was not hurt from the fall. He was, however, stuck.

“Had he not been visible at that point I wouldn’t know what the outcome would have been,” Shu noted. “When I realized that we couldn’t help him I called 911 at 3:27 p.m. and asked for the fire department. The dispatch said that the fire department doesn’t do animal rescue but she would make a call.”

Roughly 20 minutes later Cowichan Search and Rescue had called Shu back, and Shu was able to give them their GPS coordinates and a screen shot of their location on the Municipality of North Cowichan’s trail app.

“While we waited for SAR, part of the ledge Toby was on did crumble and fall off. We kept saying ‘Toby stay’.”

Cowichan SAR found the trio quickly and its ropes team set up to save the dog.

“When the SAR came I figure he knew help was coming and we heard him whine for the first time,” Shu said. “But he stayed there for over two hours.”

Shu said Toby was rescued “by the most incredible bunch of heroes”.

“I am still in awe at the way the team came and the lead assessed the situation, asked me a few questions, reassured me that ‘don’t worry we will get him’,” Shu added. “Everyone went about the script it seems like from their training, yelling commands as they went about the safety checks and rope set up and everything.”

And in the end, Toby was reunited atop the mountain with his family no worse for wear.

Shu had nothing but praise for Cowichan SAR: “I can’t thank them enough for their selfless volunteerism. We were lucky they were there for us. For the folks who arrived on scene, the professionalism and the calm nature in how you went about setting up your ropes and going down the cliff to rescue our dog — I have no words to describe the appreciation for what you do. Thanks again.”

All of this could have been avoided if Shu would consider trading his dog for $250,000. I’m kidding, I’m kidding. There’s just something about pets that brings a richness to our lives that money just can’t match.



sarah.simpson@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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(Courtesy of Daniel Shu)

(Courtesy of Daniel Shu)

(Courtesy of Daniel Shu)

(Courtesy of Daniel Shu)