GRATITUDE: Dog owner’s thanks after rescue at Lincoln Park

Jann wanted to share this story and gratitude for those who helped search for and rescue their dog last Saturday – from passersby to a search/rescue organization you might not have heard about:

Murphy bolted after a squirrel while we were on a walk at Lincoln Park. I could not catch him and witnessed his little pointed ears disappear over the cliff side. By the time I arrived at the edge, I heard him rolling down the hill through the brush, but was not able to see him. Then there was no sound except kids playing, birds chirping, and waves crashing – it was deafening and I was stunned.

The first help I received was from two women walking a Golden Retriever. They looked all over the top side of the cliff and then walked all the way down the trail to the beach. We searched along the beach trail for any signs of Murphy – nothing. I would like to thank them for the time they spent assisting in the search.

After an hour of searching two times up and down the trail to the beach, with no signs or sounds of Murphy, and a muddled thought process, I phoned the non-emergency number for the Seattle Police Department at around 10:45 AM. I do not recall the dispatcher’s name, but she was very kind and patched me through to the Saturday duty officer for Animal Control. Again, without pencil and paper, I do not recall the officer’s name, but he was equally kind and texted me the contact number for Washington State Animal Response Team.

Gretchen answered for WASART, whose motto is “Helping animals & their Owners in Disasters”. We talked through the scenario and possible consequences which gave me some hope. She advised that 1) the available rescue team was in Enumclaw, and with the I-5 closure, it would a minimum of 3 hours for them to arrive, 2) she needed pics of the area and 3) permission from Lincoln Park Staff to conduct to park the truck with equipment. Gretchen advised me to continue to search as long as possible and that it might be the next day before any help would be dispatched.

Next, I phoned my husband who was working on a project in Everett. He headed home and I met him there at about 1:30. We returned to the LP and the location on the cliff – still no sounds or sight of Murphy, even with the aid of binoculars. We headed down the trail, searched all the way past the accident location, and then we caught a break.

A couple walking a white pit bull/boxer mix asked if they could be of help. The woman said she thought she heard a dog bark on the hillside. We walked to the location, which was just below where Murphy went over the side. My husband could not hear the bark, but I could, It was intermittent and we were now 5 hours after the fall. It was tough to tell if the bark was on the cliff side, the beach, or in the park, but the couple was pretty sure it sounded like the cliff side to them – that was really a ray of hope. The couple took my cell number and said they would text if they saw Murphy on the North beach trail. About 10 minutes later, they returned and advised that the trail they had planned to walk was too steep, but they would keep an eye out along the beach. We want to thank them as we may not have located Murphy or given up without their assistance.

I phoned Gretchen to advise that we thought we knew where to find Murphy on the cliff side. At 2;45, Gretchen phoned and advised us to go home and wait for a call from the rescue team with an ETA of that was at 6:00 PM. We were home for only 45 minutes when Gretchen phoned to say that team members were arriving at LP in about 15 minutes – 3;45.

While we were driving from the Admiral District – trying to not go too fast – Matthew from WASART phoned to say he would meet us at the NE driveway. We arrived, met Matthew and two other team members, Joe and Vallen. We headed to the cliff side to watch for movement and listen for barking. My husband stayed behind to advise the park staff that the crew was onsite.

At first we heard just an occasional bark, but I recognized it as Murphy and the team was sure it was coming from the cliff side. Then we heard some whimpering, and finally, a regular stream of barking. At that point, we were 6 hours and 15 minutes into the emergency. While the team was gearing up, two couples stopped to ask about what was happening, and all four of them stayed with me to provide moral support. My husband was still at the LP maintenance office looking for staff. The moral support from the by-standers was very welcome as I had spent much of the day wracked with guilt and thoughts of never again seeing our dog alive and well.

Vallen volunteered to rappel the cliff which at the lip is 90 degrees with a down slope of 80 to 90 degrees. It is covered with snags and poison oak. At approximately 50 ft below the lip edge, Vallen radioed that he found Murphy. However, he did not advise my dog’s condition. It was not until Vallen was about 20 ft below the top that we saw his yellow safety helmet with my little Toto Dog – he looks just like Toto – tucked under Vallen’s arm – Murphy’s little button eyes and pointed ears.

Once they reached the top, I broke down in tears (teary right now as I write) All of the by-standers applauded and we shook hands. I even hugged the two women who stood by me. My husband arrived just in time to see Vallen and Murphy hit topside. Thank you to the by-standers who waited so patiently with me and kept up conversation in order to keep me calm.

Other than being covered with pollen, a case blood shot swollen eyes, and complete exhaustion, Murphy is good. Thank you to SPD, Animal Control, our unidentified WS neighbors walking through the LP, and WASART!! They all were a part of the rescue and an invaluable network. We are still in a little disbelief that we have our dog – so thankful!!! WASART is non-profit. They are a terrific support and rescue group when a pet owner is hopeful or when all hope seems lost. The WASART website is:

31 Replies to "GRATITUDE: Dog owner's thanks after rescue at Lincoln Park"

  • Guy Olson June 5, 2018 (9:52 am)

    Did his leash get tangled in the brush?

  • LeashYourDog June 5, 2018 (10:06 am)

    Leash your dog. It is the law in the park. It has the added benefit of saving you and your dog from this type of issue again. 

    • WSB June 5, 2018 (10:56 am)

      Yes, they said they realize that and learned a very scary lesson. Although it should be noted – as I have read hundreds of lost-dog reports (not usually this dramatic) in 10 years of running the WSB Lost/Found Pets page – that leashed dogs bolt too.

      • Lisa June 6, 2018 (1:41 pm)

        I’m not seeing the part where they learned a lesson and recognized the dog should have been on a leash…As a runner I’m all for owners respecting the leash laws. I’ve been nipped at, jumped on and have nearly tripped over unleashed dogs.

  • astro June 5, 2018 (10:09 am)

    Wow! Glad for your happy ending and all the awesome people that helped.

  • Marty June 5, 2018 (10:20 am)

    Thanks for sharing such a great story!

  • H June 5, 2018 (10:27 am)

    What a story! I got teary just reading it.

  • D'YouLikeDags June 5, 2018 (10:42 am)

    …but did he catch the squirrel? My dogs always try, but of course they are leashed so they don’t get too far from me.

    • Rick June 5, 2018 (11:21 am)

      “My dog used to chase cars but I don’t think he’d know what to do with one if he caught it.”

  • West Sea Neighbor June 5, 2018 (10:55 am)

    Glad that Murphy is ok, but why wasn’t he on a leash? Isn’t that the law?

  • Patricia Washington June 5, 2018 (10:55 am)

    So glad you got your dog back. In order for him to stay safe PUT HIM ON A LEASH!!  That’s the law, for his sake as well as others.

    • WSB June 5, 2018 (11:11 am)

      As noted above, they realize that and it was a scary lesson to learn. Perhaps this will help convince others.

  • doglover June 5, 2018 (11:17 am)

    aside from hearing the happy ending, i am very grateful to wsart for their rescue efforts. i had never heard of this organization before but i’ve saved their contact info in my phone in case i or anyone i know with an animal in distress needs it.  thanks to wsb for posting this story and hope the owners hug their dog tightly :)

  • waikikigirl June 5, 2018 (11:21 am)

    OMG people I’m sure they realize that (leash) and it never ceases to amaze me how insensitive some people are… as the saying goes “if you can’t say something nice then don’t say anything at all” I’m glad your pup was not harmed to badly in this fall and hugs to the people that helped and comforted you!  

    • Terri June 5, 2018 (11:43 am)

      By all means, reserve your judgment and condemnation for the “insensitive” commenters rather than the merely neglectful owners who put their dog at risk. 

  • Kate K June 5, 2018 (12:04 pm)

    Thankful Murphy was home safe with you. And grateful for all the caring West Seattle neighbors who helped with the search and recovery of your pup.

  • Kristen June 5, 2018 (12:41 pm)

    Such a wonderful story of a community coming together to support this family in a very scary situation. I just added the contact info for WASART to my phone (hopefully will never need to use them)!And enough with the leash comment – this family went through a terrible experience, obviously learned a lesson a very tough way, and don’t need a bunch on snarky high-horse comments to salt the wound. Please have some compassion. 

  • Question Authority June 5, 2018 (1:19 pm)

    That looks like a Cairn Terrier, and from past personal experiences you better get used to it wanting to hunt, catch and kill vermin and rodents per it’s bloodlines and natural born job description.  Ruthless and swift with no mercy shown, a true gift.

  • KBear June 5, 2018 (1:29 pm)

    Oh, I don’t know… I’ll bet if the Devil appeared and said “I can get your dog back, but you’ll have to endure some scolding on the West Seattle Blog”, they would have agreed in an instant. I know I would. Fortunately, they weren’t dealing with Satan—just some nice volunteers who gave up their time and put their own safety at risk. Perhaps the repeated reminders will sink in with some of the other leash-averse park users.

  • dhg June 5, 2018 (1:58 pm)

    I appreciate the time you took to tell us your story. There is precious little in the news with happy endings so it’s nice to read one, especially when it’s local.  Good to know about WSART

  • LinkinParkLover- June 5, 2018 (3:12 pm)

     QUIT TRYING TO CODDLE PEOPLE WHO HAVE AN UNPLEASANT EXPERIENCE AFTER BREAKING THE LAW.“this family went through a terrible experience, obviously
    learned a lesson a very tough way, and don’t need a bunch on snarky high-horse
    comments to salt the wound. Please have some compassion.”  -KRISTENThis pet owner caused this unfortunate situation and for you to judge someone for pointing out the law that
    would prevent this situation is absurd. The leash law (one of many) is
    disregarded by self-entitled d-bags every day. Who are you to decide what
    message people should contribute on a public forum, or determine that someone
    doesn’t have enough compassion?  I didn’t read one comment that
    wished the outcome had been different/worse. If you don’t like the law, you have the same opportunity as everyone else to get involved and try to change it, however I believe you have committed a crime if you choose to disregard it. 

    I am truly happy that the dog is unharmed and I hope that
    the owner was fined. It ‘s wonderful that they have a new “reason to follow the
    law.” Also, I wonder if the dog owner would have been charged with animal
    abuse if Murphy had not been so lucky. 

    “Human judges can show mercy. But against the
    laws of nature, there is no appeal”

    -Arthur C Clarke

  • KM June 5, 2018 (3:46 pm)

    Glad to hear of this happy outcome!

  • Elle Nell June 5, 2018 (3:58 pm)

    Leash. Your. Dog. It. Is. The. Law.lucky you got your dog, nice story and all but honestly this is 

  • MaryV June 5, 2018 (4:34 pm)

    @Terri, geez whatever and it must be nice to have never made a mistake in your life as we can assume by your comment.

  • Marcee June 5, 2018 (6:14 pm)

    WASART does so much all over the state including during wildfire season by helping folks move their horses, cattle, etc. out of harms way. Saving animals who have fallen into wells and other scary situations. Hope you’ll send a deductible donation to this worthy organization. 

  • JC June 5, 2018 (8:45 pm)

    Thanks for sharing your story so we are all aware of the organizations that might help others in similar situations.  It’s refreshing to hear good stories, about caring people helping strangers, and most of all, happy endings!  

  • mnw June 5, 2018 (9:03 pm)

    I am so happy this story had a happy ending. I follow WASART on Facebook and they are amazing people. As someone who is frequently frustrated by off leash dogs, this is one of the MANY reasons there are leash laws. @Maryv, people that don’t leash their dogs aren’t making “mistakes”…most if not all are well aware that they are breaking the law, but simply don’t care. They not only risk injuries to their dog and other people’s dogs, but also put the rescuers at risk who have to come save the day when things go wrong.

    • DH June 6, 2018 (4:34 pm)


  • pupsarebest June 5, 2018 (11:26 pm)

    Happy Toto is safe.Somewhere over the rainbow, people actually abide by leash laws, and the dreams of us “suckers” who do as well, really do come true.

  • lolz June 6, 2018 (6:34 am)

    Haha, I read this story and thought it was a nice write-up of the incident and then glanced at the comments count and knew that a leash battle would be raging. Troll on people! I heard that the off leash dog was actually riding a bike and ran a stop sign beforehand. Supposedly the dog was running away because  a cop had used excessive force to try to stop him. Cop was mad about the headcount tax.

  • M June 6, 2018 (9:02 am)

    So happy to see a happy ending for Murphy and his owners 

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