Falling for Darcy

My pup went walkies - off the edge of a cliff!

Published by: Lynne Milford
Published on: 28th January 2010

Today was going to be busy. Not only was I looking after my grandsons Jamie, four, and Christopher, two, I also had my new puppy Darcy.
The only solution was to tire all three of them out with a long walk.
'Right boys,' I beamed. 'Let's get ready. We're off to the seaside.'
'Cool,' cheered Jamie. We headed down to Whitburn for a stroll along the cliff top.
As they flung sticks for Darcy to chase, she bounced around in the grass. Poor Christopher couldn't keep up as his brother hurtled along the footpath.
'How about I take the strain,' I chuckled, scooping him up.
But as I turned back round, something was wrong.
'W-where's Darcy gone?' I asked, puzzled.
Then I spotted Jamie standing, frozen, near the edge of the cliff.
He was pointing, his little hand shaking.
'Jamie?' I gulped. 'Where's the dog?' I followed his finger.
Oh, God! He was pointing straight over the cliff edge!
'She went over there,' Jamie said.
Darcy must've been excitedly racing after a stick, not watching where she was going.
'Stay here,' I told the boys, setting Christopher down.
Inching towards the cliff edge, I wasn't sure what I'd find. It was a sheer drop of about 100ft.
I scoured the jagged rocks down below. Blinking, I spotted something black on the beach.
Darcy looked at me, holding her right front paw in the air, as if to say 'I'm hurt!'
The fall would have killed a human. How on earth had a Patterdale terrier pup survived?
Right. What to do? Phone the coastguard. But would they help rescue a dog?
Calling them on my mobile, the operator was really helpful.
'Don't worry, we'll have someone along in no time,' he said.
Next, I rang my husband Ian, 54.
'I'll bring the boys, see if we can help,' he told me.
Fifteen minutes later, he arrived with our sons Michael, 29, and Steven, 24.
'I'll find a way down to her,' Michael said.
'You could be killed,' I cried, grabbing his arm in panic.
But he was determined to go.
Finally reaching Darcy, he sat with her stroking her ears.
It wasn't long before the coastguard arrived, and an RSPCA ambulance.
They made their way down to the beach the way Michael had.
Popping Darcy in a rigid-frame bag, her head poking out of the top, they scrambled back up, and took her off to a PDSA surgery.
Once there, Darcy was sedated and x-rayed. 'She's fractured her back leg quite badly,' the vet told us. 'We might have to amputate, but first we'll need to operate to see how bad the damage is. Bring her back tomorrow.'
After a long, sleepless night, we took Darcy back the next day.
An hour later, the vet met us with a smile. 'Her bones were stronger than we thought,' he said. 'We've managed to pin the back leg.'
She'd also broken her toes on both front paws. The right paw was put in plaster, but the left was able to heal without help.
Two months later, she was given the all-clear.
We've kept clear of the cliff top and stuck to parks since - they're much safer.

? For more information on the PDSA, visit
Pauline Dodds, 49, Washington, Tyne and Wear