Dog Stuck On Mountain Cliff Is Tremendously Relieved To Spot Rescuers Coming Her Way

Holly was an 8-week-old puppy living with her siblings on the streets of Cape Town, South Africa, when a concerned citizen, collected the stray puppies in a bucket and delivered them to a shelter run by Domestic Animal Rescue Group (DARG). They remained there until they found forever homes.

dog saved from mountain

A photo of a photo showing Holly and her siblings as tiny puppies — a Good Samaritan carried them to the shelter inside of a bucket

Holly was later rescued a second time and this incident was a bit more dramatic and definitely hair-raising. Michelle Hoch and Josh Hayman, who had adopted Holly over a year ago, took Holly on a hike on Lion’s Head, a popular mountain in Cape Town on New Year’s Day.
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Holly often went hiking with her owners, so this wasn’t anything new to her. However, a few hours into the hike, everything went wrong.

dog saved from mountain

Holly with her two owners, Hoch and Hayman

When Holly caught sight of a few dassies, large African rodents, she bolted toward them. Holly’s clip that held the leash to collar snapped, and Hoch and Hayman lost control of her.

“They said their recall with her is pretty good, but she never responded,” Nicole Nel, a dog behaviorist and general manager for DARG said. “They kept calling, kept calling, but they couldn’t hear her. She was gone.”

dog saved from mountain

Holly after she was adopted by Hoch and Hayman

Hoch and Hayman immediately began searching for Holly. “They asked people walking past on the trail, ‘Have you seen a little black dog? She’s got white socks,’” Nel said. “But everybody was like, ‘No, I haven’t seen her.’”

Hayman then got his drone camera and used it to scan the area from above, but they still couldn’t find her.

“They then put a call into DARG and I took that call,” Nel said. “And the owner, Michelle, said, ‘Help, help — I don’t know what to do. Holly’s gone missing on Lion’s Head.’ I know Holly really well, so I put down the phone and went to go help.”

dog saved from mountain

Lion’s Head, the mountain where Holly disappeared

There was still no sign of Holly after nine hours and they feared the worst.

“The area where she went missing — there’s a path and slope of grass, and then there’s a drop,” Nel said. “It’s about a 200- to 300-meter [656- to 985-foot] drop.”

If Holly was still alive, Nel couldn’t understand why they couldn’t find her. It would have been hard for Holly to leave that specific area of the mountain without being carried down a ladder.

dog saved from mountain

Professional climbers getting ready to descend a cliff to search for Holly

“It was just very strange that she was nowhere to be seen in that specific part of the mountain,” Nel said. “And it was New Year’s Day — it was very busy.”

The team didn’t give u and they searched for Holly until the sunset, and then they got busy putting up posters in the area.

“They [Holly’s owners] were very emotional,” Nel said. “They must have been absolutely devastated.”

dog saved from mountain

Professional climbers descending a cliff to search for Holly

The next morning they all continued their search for Holly. This time, they had extra help from the rangers from South African National Parks (SANParks), as well as a couple of professional rock climbers.

Hoch and Hayman kept searching too. They climbed all around the area where Holly had disappeared and around 10 o’clock that morning, they got lucky.

“They took her favorite toy, which is a squeaky toy, and then they suddenly heard this crying,” Nel said. “And they looked up and they saw her little head 150 meters above them.”

dog saved from mountain

The place where Holly was eventually found on the cliff

Getting Holly was going to be difficult.

“She was stuck on a ledge that was very difficult to access from above, and even more difficult to access from below,” Nel said. “On that rock surface, there was a little piece of rock jutting out and there was a bush, and she had somehow landed on that.”

The professional rock climbers had to be the ones to rescue Holly because the terrain was so treacherous. “They went down and secured her in a harness to lower her down to the bottom,” Nel said.

dog saved from mountain

The rescue team and Holly celebrating Holly’s safe return

Everyone was incredibly relieved when they came back with Holly in their arms, especially Holly herself.

“I was right there, and it was very emotional,” Nel said. “Lots of relief. Everybody was happy. There was a round of applause.”

dog saved from mountain

Holly in the arms of her owner after being rescued from the cliff

Hoch and Hayman immediately took her to the vet for a checkup even though Holly appeared unscathed. She was also very thirsty. “She drank about three bowls of water, and in the car, she drank another bowl of water,” Nel said. “So she was very dehydrated.”

dog saved from mountain

Holly and the rescue team after Holly was pulled to safety

Once Holly got back home, she immediately fell asleep.

“She passed out and started to snore, and stayed asleep until late morning the next day,” Nel said. “And she’s been sleeping ever since. She was very relieved to be home. She’s a dear little dog.”

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