A pooped-out pooch got some special attention from North Shore Rescue and helicopter ride home Tuesday (Aug. 16) afternoon after getting into trouble on the North Shore’s Mount Seymour.
The rescue team got the call from North Vancouver RCMP after being contacted by two hikers, one of whom was the dog’s owner.
The two women had been hiking on Mount Seymour with Duke, a four-year-old golden retriever, when the pup ran into trouble on a steep section of the trail near Tim Jones Peak.
Despite cajoling by his owner, Duke was done.
“The dog wouldn’t go any further,” said Don Jardine, search manager for North Shore Rescue.
At first, the hikers thought the recalcitrant retriever might have been suffering from heat exhaustion. But upon closer inspection, they found the dog had injured his paws on some sharp rocks.
Duke’s significant size – no shrinking canine, the pup weighed in at about 112 pounds – also complicated the prospect of a rescue.
Jardine said the dog’s predicament involved several calls and discussions with the provincial emergency program. The team is mandated to rescue people, but not pets and animals. “If it’s something like a dog rescue, that’s not what they were set up to do,” he said.
However, faced with the prospect of people attempting to carry the dog out themselves over tricky terrain in the dark, provincial funders relented and a helicopter was called in.
Sometimes rescuing someone’s pet is the lesser of two evils, said Jardine. “You either go in and get the dog or you end up with people overnight in the bush, possibly getting injured. It’s not a great area to be carrying a big dog over.”
Luckily the helicopter was able to land on a nearby helipad on Tim Jones Peak, while one of North Shore Rescue’s experienced dog handlers got Duke into a dog harness and into the helicopter with his owner.
Unlike some dogs they’ve rescued, Duke was well behaved and seemed grateful to have a helping hand off the mountain, said Jardine.
Jardine added he was once in a similar situation when a dog he was looking after – also a golden retriever – bolted and got struck on a cliff ledge on the Howe Sound Crest Trail. In that case, a helicopter and rope rescue was also necessary, but Jardine had to pick up a chunk of the $1,600 helicopter tab – something that dog owners should consider, he said.
He added anyone who owns a big dog needs to be aware that pups who seem robust down at street level might run into difficulties on steep and sharp alpine trails, particularly in the heat. “It’s not the best place to have a dog,” he said.
In this case, however, the hikers did the right thing by calling 911, he said.