Cliffhanger for collie Hero

Charlotte Flaherty and her daughter Rosa  are delighted to have Smithfield collie Hero back in...
Charlotte Flaherty and her daughter Rosa are delighted to have Smithfield collie Hero back in their arms after he fell down a cliff below Prospect Park in Dunedin yesterday. Photos by Peter McIntosh.
Hero, the 7-year-old Smithfield collie, waits to be rescued from tree branches halfway down a 30m...
Hero, the 7-year-old Smithfield collie, waits to be rescued from tree branches halfway down a 30m cliff in Dunedin yesterday.
Willowbank Firefighters Tony Gyde (top, centre) and Alan McNeill rescue Hero  from tree branches...
Willowbank Firefighters Tony Gyde (top, centre) and Alan McNeill rescue Hero from tree branches on a cliff below Prospect Park.
Hero is carried to safety by Mr  McNeill
Hero is carried to safety by Mr McNeill

Sometimes even heroes need saving.

Seven-year-old Smithfield collie Hero was rescued by Willowbank firefighters yesterday after falling down a 30m cliff in pursuit of a possum.

The dog was walking with owner Charlotte Flaherty and her daughter Rosa (12) between Woodhaugh and Highgate about 2pm.

Led astray by a possum, Hero tumbled down the cliff below Prospect Park and became stuck in tree branches about halfway down.

Mrs Flaherty said she and Rosa heard "sliding, thumping, crunching" noises followed by silence.

Fearing the worst, they called out to Hero and he started yelping.

"We couldn't see where he was and I didn't realise how high and steep the cliff was.

"We walked to the bottom then started climbing up and managed to see him, but realised we couldn't get him out without help," Mrs Flaherty said.

Armed with a fully extended ladder, four firefighters managed to reach the dog and lower him to safety.

"They [the firefighters] were absolutely fantastic," Mrs Flaherty said.

Having spent almost an hour stuck in tree branches, Hero was shaking but happy to be free.

Remarkably, he was not injured.

"It's unbelievable.

"The way he was yelping, I thought something was really wrong.

"When he got down he just started dancing around and went up to everyone like he was thanking them," Mrs Flaherty said.

She said a nearby property owner spoke of his concern about the potential for children to fall down the cliff.

A flimsy fence was all that separated a walking path and the sheer drop, Mrs Flaherty said.

-rosie.manins@odt.co.nz

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