Dog survives horror cliff fall after jumping over wall
Owner Maria pays tribute to Coastguard's rescue effort
A dog who jumped over a wall bordering a sheer drop of more than 100 feet beside Mussenden Temple has lived to tell the tale after Coastguard rescuers heroically abseiled to her aid.
On Saturday, Maria Weimer (22) was visiting the Co Londonderry beauty spot for the first time with her husband Bryce (24), brother Sean Mackin (23) and two-year-old Sheltie dog Rhea, when the terrifying accident occurred.
Maria told the Belfast Telegraph she believes that Rhea, who she says normally never ventures from her side, may have been chasing birds when she jumped up onto the narrow wall bordering the steep cliff face overlooking Downhill Beach.
"I didn't want to look over the edge when it happened - when she disappeared I thought that she had fallen right down," Maria said. "My brother and husband tried to spot her and she was on a ledge about 20 feet below.
"I looked over and she was looking up at me.
"My heart stopped, I was so relieved."
Little Rhea had managed to land on a narrow ledge, which Maria says was covered in soft, thick grass which she thinks cushioned her fall.
The family called the emergency services and the helpless hound was stuck on the outcrop for two hours as the rescue mission unfolded.
"I had to keep talking to her so she wouldn't move, she could have slipped and plummeted to the beach below," Maria added.
"Rhea can be nervous with strangers, but the Coastguard took it in stages - one guy abseiled down with the rescue bag, and as soon as he got to her she started licking his fingers.
"She was completely zipped into the bag, clipped onto the belt and carried up."
Miraculously, despite her dramatic fall, Rhea was unharmed.
"She was so happy when she got up, they checked her over but she is totally fine," Maria said.
"She was exhausted and she slept in the car on the way back, but when we got home she wanted her ball.
"She had a good night's sleep and was fine and dandy the next morning. She is part of the family, I don't know what I'd do without her."
Maria extended her thanks to the rescuers who returned her beloved pooch.
"I want to thank the Coastguard," she said. "It shows that no matter how obedient your dog is you can never be too careful."
Posting on social media, Coleraine Coastguard, who worked with Ballycastle Coastguard on the rescue, asked the public to keep dogs on leads when walking near cliffs.