Terror at 200 feet for a little dog lost to the icy grip of Storm Gareth, and its chance of survival quickly diminishing.
By, 21 Mar 2019
Last week Ben was happily walking with his folks through the Scottish Cairngorms, but he wanted to explore by himself. After all, the Cairngorms are rich with pine marten, badger and deer, and there are interesting scents everywhere. He felt like having an adventure.
Within a moment Ben was out of sight. His owners searched for him for several hours but were soon beaten back by the Arctic breath of Storm Gareth. On their return dog-less to the relative safety of Aviemore they were told to expect the worse.
48 hours later a rescue helicopter operated by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA) took off from Inverness on a routine training mission; it had as its destination the Cairngorms.
‘The Inverness helicopter crew – captain Simon Hammock, co-pilot Roger Sherriff, winch operator Rob Glendinning and Winchman Mark Stevens, were undertaking some essential winter training at Stag Rocks in the Cairngorms,’ said a spokesman for the MCA.
‘To put their winter skills to the test, the two Winchmen were dropped off at a nearby bothy to undertake essential medical training in the snow.’
A break in the clouds
Once the Winchmen were on the ground the helicopter crew took off and circled over nearby Stag Rocks to simulate a refuelling. Above Loch Avon and amid broken clouds the pilot caught a glimpse of a terrified dog perched on the edge of a cliff.
The crew immediately returned to collect the Winchmen and then carried out an airborne rescue of the dog, later identified as Ben.
‘The weather had luckily presented them an ideal window of opportunity to use the rest of their training time to rescue the dog,’ added the spokesman.
Ben was flown back to his folks in Aviemore but was then taken to the Strathspey Veterinary Centre for treatment of hypothermia and shock.
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