How to rescue a cocker spaniel puppy thats fallen off a balcony
Now this one is as the title implies is a simple guide on how to rescue a beautiful little cocker spaniel called Rio, he was fourteen weeks old when this happened and, I am happy to say has never done it again.
Although having said that, he never attempted to go up or down stairs from that day until recently lured by one of the twins with some ham flavoured crisps.
Husband was away working for three weeks so the children and I were left to our own devices in the house we lived in that was half a mile up a horrible rough track. We did have electricity but couldn’t get internet due to a big mountain being in the way, this mountain also meant we couldn’t get a mobile signal, nor a telephone line as we were too far in the campo (countryside in Spanish). So basically once you were in the house that was it.
The simple rule that I made for us was DO NOT EVER HAVE AN EMERGENCY.
The house was ok apart from the wild dogs that lived on the mountain and the black mould that grew on every surface if you didn’t wipe it every 24 hours. Plus a few (hundred) other little problems, but hey, I was in the south of Spain and couldn’t complain.
The house was literally built into the side of a mountain with big concrete posts holding it up. It was fairly typical of new build houses in the area and had a lovely big outside terrace with those nice white pillars – the other side of those nice white pillars was a drop of about 25 feet down onto the side of a very steep mountain. When we first moved in it used to make me feel sick looking out from the balcony but you do get used to it.
Now my lovely little Rio used the terrace as his exercise area as I couldn’t let him out the other side due to the horrible wild dogs.
I’d put him out and shut the patio doors whilst I washed the floors etc., he’d spent plenty of time out on the balcony prior to this day and had never shown any inclination towards the edge.
You know when you get that horrible feeling and go to check and you were right moments, well this was one of those moments and yes, he had disappeared and my heart nearly stopped because I couldn’t hear him either so assumed the worst. After a bit of scrutinising and calling, I spotted him sitting about forty feet down the mountainside, I called him and he started whining and waggling his tail and running in circles. That was a good sign as I knew he wasn’t injured. I kept calling and moving along the balcony thinking he’d simply follow me along and make his way up the one little track that went around the mountainside and up to the other side of the house.
By this time my twins who had just turned five were there to help. Always useful. They never fail to amaze me how they can be doing something nice and quietly in a different room and then when you really need some peace to work something out they are right there. Bless them. Lots of shouting and calling and walking backwards and forwards were getting us nowhere. Rio is now becoming panic stricken because he can’t get up, it’s starting to get dark and there are no streetlights up this mountain.
After an hour of getting nowhere, I decided I would get my husbands climbing gear, or at least a rope, tie it to myself and then to the balcony and do a kind of abseil down the mountain and rescue Rio. Whilst I was trying to find the rope, I had a freak mobile signal and Husband was on the phone from the UK. I told him of my current rescue mission and he had a major shout and said that no way was I to try climbing down the mountain in the dark with two little children at the top. I thought about it for a moment then decided he was actually probably maybe right and aborted that mission.
I am not known for my climbing and abseiling abilities at the best of times.
Sally our Labrador is a true pig. She will do anything to get her hands on food of any description. Although she had been on the balcony with Rio when he had his fall, there was no barking or whining or any indication that anything out of the ordinary had happened. Suddenly seeing before me a dog that is supposedly very intelligent (they train them as guide dogs after all), coupled with her food obsession, a new idea formed. This was her chance to shine. She is very attached to my husband and he can do anything with her – alas her obedience ability is limited to just ‘sit’.
I’d cooked a load of vege sausages for dinner and devised a cunning plan of chopping them into little pieces, letting Sally get a whiff and then throwing them from the top down the narrow track around the circumference of the mountain until she reached Rio and then she could lead him back to safety. Easy. So followed by my little helpers and Sally we marched out the front door and around to the end of the track. I threw piece after piece down the track then moved around the top of the ridge and kept throwing pieces of sausage – the plan was kind of working and she was moving in the right direction. Sally the pig lived up to her nickname and scoffed every piece of sausage I could throw. She did look a bit confused as to why she was being given this brilliant new sausage chasing activity but soon got into the swing of it. At the same time I was calling Rio and hoping he’d hear me from a different direction and work his way along – surely he could hear and smell Sally and surely Sally would realise it was a puppy in danger.
Obviously not. The sausages ran out and Sally got distracted by a leaf blowing in the wind in the other direction that needed seriously barking at. After a bit of leaf barking she disappeared off to the complete other side of the mountain because she had learnt on one of our walks that an olive grove farmer sometimes left what looked like scrambled eggs on the ground - presumably for the wild dogs. As soon as it got dark every night, she tried to sneak off for an hour to hunt the eggs.
We were back to square one. It was by now twilight and I was running out of ideas.
I decided that as I had got a random mobile signal earlier, maybe it would happen again and I could ring someone to help. I went in to get the phone and the rope and a torch, just in case.
My little daughter was getting upset about Rio not being able to find his way back up and I said to both of them to think of an idea to rescue him.
After a few minutes she said ‘I know, Spot told me’ picked our cat (Spot) up and threw him over the balcony before I could shout no. Rushing back to the edge I peered into the darkness and saw Spot (who was not injured in any way during this rescue) making his way over to Rio. He rubbed himself over and around the puppy then literally walked him up and along the track. It was unbelievable. They were both safe.
Rio was ecstatic to be back up to the safety of his home and never ever went near the edge of the balcony again, Spot was rewarded with some nice fresh salmon and Sally, well she didn’t get anything because: a) she was the other side of the mountain scoffing scrambled egg and b) she’d eaten our dinner and done absolutely nothing to aid the rescue.
Now I would never advocate throwing a cat over a balcony, would never have thought it would have worked but my little girl was so sure and confident in the cats ability to rescue that I wonder whether cats would make more adept guide/rescue dogs than Labradors. Just a thought and only speaking from personal experience.
Nearly a year on and we still frequently relive the great rescue and I swear that cat knew what he was doing.
Sadly Spot got sick and died by the swimming pool a few months ago but we’ll always remember him as Spot the Guide Cat.