Fire brigade rescue dog from pipe pursuit

Cherie Saunders with firefighter Blake and Ayla-May at Greerton Fire Station. Photo: Supplied.

Anything is pawsible when you have a dog. Especially if your dog is a New Zealand 2020 agility champion.

Tauranga dog owner Cherie Saunders discovered that her Miniature Schnauzer Ayla-May has a penchant for chasing bunnies. This would sound like a perfectly normal doggy activity if it wasn’t for the rabbit in question disappearing down a pipe with Ayla-May in hot pursuit.

Cherie and Ayla-May had gone for a Friday evening walk along the Tauranga Racecourse reserve, while Cherie’s husband Mike enjoyed a quiet drink at nearby Oasis Bar and Grill.

“Ayla-May knows rabbits live there,” says Cherie. “She’s always been too big so I’ve never worried about her getting into a tunnel.”

As Cherie pulled her dog away from the pipe, the unthinkable happened.

“She realised we were going home, so she ran around my legs back to the hole and made a leap for it. She flattened her whole body out like a pancake with her legs behind her and scooped into the hole. I thought ‘oh no, you’ve got to be joking!’”

Cherie immediately called to Ayla-May to come out.

“I could hear her excited squeals as she dug further through to the point where I could no longer hear her.

“I then rang Mike. I said ‘emergency! She’s gone down a hole and I think she’s dead!’.

“He came racing down to us; it was getting dark and I was a mess. Alya was still quiet and it was pretty dire. Mike rang 111 and spoke to the fire brigade.”

Cherie says a fire truck was on the scene with lights blazing within five minutes.

“They calmly came in, with two firemen at one end and three firemen at the other, and got me to go to one end and call her. We took our torches away to have a think about digging up ground and cutting through the pipe; the rabbit must have felt comfortable to run out the end.

“It took off and Ayla screamed and put her head out. The fireman called out to me so I grabbed her by the scruff of the neck up into my arms with strict instructions not to put her down on the ground again.”

Cherie and Ayla-May headed to the station the next morning with a cake to thank the brigade.

“They said to me they know how important dogs are,” she says. “I took them a gluten-free raspberry cake, so if anyone had any food allergies they could all eat it. I also took Ayla so she could apologise to them face-to-face.”

Cherie plans to keep Ayla-May on a big lead and harness for future walks.

“Thanks to the firemen I got to take my girl home again.”


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