Pup falls off bluff, survives to wag tail again

A stranded pooch named “Chunk” was rescued from the side of a massive bluff in Clinton earlier this month.

According to South Whidbey Fire/EMS Chief Rusty Palmer, the district was dispatched to a home on Brockman Road at Possession Point late Saturday night for a report of a dog that had fallen off a cliff.

Firefighters arrived on scene and, after speaking with the animal’s owners, spotted the dog about 70 feet down an estimated “250-to-300-foot-high” bluff.

Palmer said the lab-mix fell about 20 vertical feet and slid down another 50 feet.

“The dog was uninjured, amazingly,” he said.

The animal was still so high up that it couldn’t be seen or heard from the beach, he added.

As district officials often do with bluff rescues, they called in experts — the Navy Region Northwest Fire and Emergency Services’ specialized rope rescue team — to assist. Crews went to work setting up a system of lines that would safely send a man down the bluff and then pull him and dog back up safely, but it took several hours.

In the meantime, rescuers could hear Chunk whining below and did their best to check in on him regularly.

“Every once in a while we’d call down and say, ‘How you doing, Chunk?’ And he’d bark,” Palmer said.

Similarly, once the climber reached the dog, the scene commander asked for a status check. The rescuer radioed back, saying the patient had responded with a tail wag.

Both Chunk and the climber were retrieved successfully, and the fire department cleared the scene at about 4 a.m. Sunday. Participating in the rescue were five firefighters from Station 33 and five members from the Navy’s department.

Bluff rescues are common on Whidbey Island with fire districts performing about one per year. They are often dogs, but people occasionally find themselves stranded as well.

Palmer said the public should take extra care around Whidbey’s bluffs, keeping a safe distance from edges and a watchful eye on pets.

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