Our two black Labradors, Nimrod and Beauty, brother and sister, jumped off the 14th century stone bridge over the Coquet in Warkworth, crashing 27ft on to the rocks and mud of the central island.
We have no idea why Beauty scrambled up and over the wall, but Nimrod almost certainly tried to go to the aid of his injured sister on hearing her cries of pain.
They are both trained working dogs, bred by ourselves, and normally rock steady. I have been both a gamekeeper and dog owner/trainer for 40 years and can still not give an explanation for Beauty’s actions that evening.
We would like to take this opportunity to thank all of the people who helped us to rescue our dogs. The fire service and water rescue team from Amble were quickly on the scene and organised for the movement of the dogs from the island in the middle of the river.
The local RSPCA were also shortly on the scene. The kind lady living nearby provided comfort and tea while her husband’s boat was offered and pumped up in readiness, before we had the rescue support team.
A local man (whose name we don’t know, but who was wearing shorts) knew of a local vet and one of the fire crew called on him rather than have us wait for the emergency hours vet who had been called from Morpeth. How eternally grateful we are for that!
The vet who was called was not on duty, but Steven Carragher of Alnorthumbria vets, was on the scene within minutes of being summoned. His calm manner gave instant confidence and reassurance. He was quickly transported out onto the water by the fire service and across to the central island where I was comforting the dogs.
The dogs were assessed by Stephen and using the RSPCA seal bags, he accompanied each back to safety.
They had gone into shock and I feared they were close to death. They were moved to the new surgery in Alnwick where an immediate stabilising procedure swung into place. Within the hour our dogs were so much better due to the excellent care and attention they were given.
We were then told our dogs had feeling in all four legs and, although badly injured, had no obvious life-threatening damage. They even managed to give us a weak wag of their tails before we left them for the night.
The dogs have since been operated for a smashed foot and dislocated hip (Beauty) and snapped tendon and dislocated hip (Nimrod) and although Beauty is likely to carry a limp for the rest of her life, they otherwise should both make a full recovery with time.
Our feeling of relief and gratitude to all concerned is impossible to put into mere words.
Nigel Blayney and Susan Foster,