Dog plunges 30 feet down embankment near Scots river sparking five-hour rescue mission

A dog sparked a five hour multi-emergency rescue mission after it plummeted 30 feet down an embankment near a Scots river.

Little Shadow was chasing a pheasant by the River Spey, near Mosstodloch in Moray, when she took the plunge at around 2.50pm on Wednesday.

Jeannie Alexander, 70, was out walking the four-year-old spaniel in horror weather conditions when the incident happened before she frantically called her husband William to come and help.

Retired William, who worked for the Royal Air Force for 30 years, couldn’t get near the pooch so the couple, from Mosstodloch, phoned the emergency services.

The fire service and coastguard crews raced out to the dramatic rescue in driving snow and wind before shadow was eventually pulled to safety, some five hours later.

The embankment were Shadow fell down near Mosstodloch
The embankment were Shadow fell down near Mosstodloch

William, 70, told the Record: «Shadow had spotted a pheasant that had lifted off and she started chasing it.

«Normally she gives up after about 20 yards but this time she just kept going and went straight over the edge.

«I was home and got a frantic phone call from Jeannie saying to come and help.

«It’s about a 30 foot drop and I had a look and saw there was no way I could get down there. The bit overhangs and you can’t get too close to the edge as I didn’t want to have to be rescued too.»

Shadow was stuck down the embankment
Shadow was stuck down the embankment

Firefighters from both Fochabers and Buckie fire stations attended but couldn’t reach Shadow, so they called on the coastguard’s rope rescue teams to assist.

Grandfather-of-five William said: «The coastguard quickly arrived and told us what they were going to do – they were absolutely brilliant. They were concerned about us, as well as the dog, as we were obviously frozen.

«There was two fire engines and three coastguard pick-up trucks on our side and a truck and a boat on the other side of the river, so there was a lot of people involved.»

The couple’s hearts were racing as the emergency services frantically executed their rescue plan.

Dramatic pictures taken by William at the scene show firefighters and coastguard crews battling through the snow and wind.

Fire and coastguard crews at the scene
Fire and coastguard crews at the scene

As darkness fell they had to rely on torches and lights to see what they were doing.

The emergency crews were eventually able to use specialist equipment to lower two coastguard officers down the steep embankment before coaxing Shadow into an animal rescue bag.

William said: «The whole thing dragged out. I phoned the emergency services at 2.50pm and it 7.50pm by the time we actually walked away.

«We could hear Shadow the whole time but we thought she was injured.

Two coastguard officers were lowered down the steep embankment
Two coastguard officers were lowered down the steep embankment

«The bit she landed on was a single bank so we could see her walking along the bank and her back legs kept slipping down so it looked as if she was hurt.

«But, remarkably, she had no injuries at all. It was amazing. She was wound up and freaked out by the whole thing and being in the rescue bag but we got her calmed down.

«She was soaking wet and covered in sand so it was just a case of getting her home, throwing her in the shower and getting her dried off.

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«Then she scoffed her tea and lay down in front of the fire like nothing had happened!

«The walk is just about half a mile from home. It used to be a regular walk but she’s banished from that side of the river now.

«We were just so thankful to have a happy ending. All’s well that ends well.»

Four-year-old spaniel Shadow (pictured as a puppy) was thankfully uninjured
Four-year-old spaniel Shadow (pictured as a puppy) was thankfully uninjured

A spokesperson for the coastguard said: «When out in coastal or inland areas near cliffs and embankments we encourage owners to keep pets on a lead.

«Shadows’ owners did exactly the right thing when they realised what had happened and called 999 straight away, not putting themselves in danger.

«In a coastal emergency, dial 999 and ask for the coastguard.»

There are a number of things HM Coastguard advise people about when bad weather hits:

  • Consider whether you should be going out at all.
  • If you decide it is safe to set out, check the weather and tidal conditions before you go and prepare accordingly.
  • With rainfall and stormy weather, eroding cliff edges, rock falls and landslides can happen without warning. Cliffs are unpredictable and you should always pay attention to warning signs, keep a safe distance from cliff edges and bases, stay on designated paths and keep your dog on a lead at all times.

Shadow pictured with William and Jeannie's daughter's puppy Rocco
Shadow pictured with William and Jeannie’s daughter’s puppy Rocco

  • If you’re on the coastline, however dramatic the storm looks, do not be tempted to take pictures by putting yourself at risk. A dramatic photograph or selfie is not worth risking your life for.
  • Walkers should consider whether they could become cut off by the incoming tide and should not attempt to climb cliffs as a shortcut back to the top.

Contact to find out if you can volunteer for the coastguard.

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