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.
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.
“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.
“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.
“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.
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.
“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