Thursday, December 09, 2004

Reindeer Dog?


By Eric Berto

Had it sported a red nose, it could have flown off the cliff. But, instead, crews from North Whidbey Fire and Rescue had to rappel down an embankment Tuesday morning to pull Hunter, an 11-month-old Great Dane decorated for Christmas, to safety from a hillside in Deception Pass State Park, just below the south parking lot. The 110-pound dog was dressed in antlers and bells so it could have its picture taken for Christmas cards, said the dog’s owner, Marta Brock. “I was taking Christmas card pictures and they took off,” she said. “They were looking all cute and (stuff) too.” The other dog, Natty, quickly returned to Brock, but Hunter was off down the hill, where he got stuck on an outcropping and was unable to get back up. It took a team of approximately 10 firefighters almost an hour to lower firefighter Keith Scruggs down the 30 feet of hillside to the massive puppy. Once at the dog, Scuggs attached a harness around it and the crew helped them both to the top. His antlers were still intact, and the bells jingled all the way — to safety. Scuggs said rescuing a dog is different from a human, because a person is generally strapped down or able to help. “The dog, he was helping, but he was trying to go faster than I could go,” he said. Once safely at the top, Brock ran to the dog, which she had rescued from a shelter, to check it for injuries. Hunter appeared to be unharmed in his adventure, save for a couple of broken nails. He wagged his tail with an audible thump against the protective gear of his rescuers. His bells clanged and his antlers hung limp, like they were exhausted, off his broad shoulders. He sat up and put his paws on top of Brock’s shoulders, towering over his owner. On the trail back to the parking lot, Hunter, anxious to get back to being a puppy, tried to go back down the hill, but Brock was not letting go this time. Brock said she was on her way home to Olympia from a trip to Canada. Her 911 call was routed to the Canadian emergency center. So she called the only number she could find at the park — the Oak Harbor Chamber of Commerce. “I’m just very, very happy to have him back,” Brock said. But she is not sure if the Christmas pictures turned out well.

Phyllis and I saw all the emergency vehicles as we went through Deception Pass, And we figured it was probably another jumper. Little did we realize it was a four footed jumper. I certainly hope she got pictures of the dog being rescued by the firefighter, and the dog still had his antlers on. Now THAT would be a Christmas card.

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