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: www.washingtonsart.org.