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‘I thought we’d never see him again’: Dog reunited with owners after slipping into Cypress Falls

Dog reunited with owners after North Shore rescue
A dog and his owners survived a harrowing ordeal on the North Shore. Houston the lab slipped into a fast-moving river. As Kristen Robinson reports, firefighters fortunately came to the rescue.

A close call ended happily for a dog and his owners after the pet slipped and fell into the river in West Vancouver’s Cypress Falls Saturday.

Mia van der Kop and Peter Figasinski were out for a walk with their golden lab Houston on the trails above the river when the dog slipped down a steep embankment.

Houston, who is just shy of one year old, tried to scramble back up the slippery rocks, but lost his footing again and fell into the river.

READ MORE: Pair of puppies rescued after four days atop Fraser Valley cliff in Mission

As Figasinski watched in horror, Houston washed downstream and over a couple of waterfalls before managing to swim to the bank and climb onto an angled ledge.

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“When Peter told me he saw it, I panicked and screamed,” van der Kop said. “I thought we’d never see him again.”

The pair ran after Houston to make sure he was okay. When they saw the precarious spot the dog was stuck in, they called 911.

Dog lost for three weeks found on cliff: rescuer and owners talk
Dog lost for three weeks found on cliff: rescuer and owners talk

“He couldn’t get a firm grip, so he was hanging on for dear life basically,” Figasinski said.

“It’s really dangerous, and we wanted to make sure we didn’t fall in ourselves as well.”

West Vancouver Fire Rescue crews rushed to the scene, sending a trained member down to make the rescue.

READ MORE: Coquitlam dog walker reunited with dogs who helped her survive after getting lost in the woods

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“We lowered the rescuer with the harness and attached the dog to the harness, and then hauled the rescuer and the dog up the bank,” duty chief Martin Leduc said.

As the member made contact with Houston, van der Kop and Figasinski anxiously awaited signs that all was well — until they saw a familiar sight.

“I was ecstatic,” van der Kop said. “I was really happy, and [Houston] was so happy to see the rescue guy.”

The pair said despite the harrowing experience, Houston was happy to continue on their hike and appeared no worse for wear.

Leduc said rescues like the one performed Saturday are exactly what his fellow members are trained for.

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“The guys did a great job today,” he said. “There’s a lot of satisfaction in rescuing dogs, just like people.”

Van der Kop and Figasinski say they may think twice about taking Houston back to Cypress Falls, but for now they’re simply happy the family is reunited.

“It’s a big relief,” van der Kop said. “If you have kids, you have a sense of what a dog means to you.”

—With files from Kristen Robinson