Highlands & Islands

Jack Russell survives four days stuck down hole in Highlands

Rescuers Image copyright Chris Blake
Image caption Rescuing Monty was a team effort

A Jack Russell terrier has survived after spending four days trapped underground in woods in the Highlands.

Monty disappeared on a walk close to Maryburgh near Dingwall on Sunday.

His owner, geologist Chris Blake, appealed for help finding his dog and over the next two days up to 50 people searched for Monty.

After barking was later heard from a hole in a cliff Mr Blake used specialist equipment to dig Monty out from where he was stuck.

The nine-year-old terrier disappeared on a walk with Mr Blake and another Jack Russell, Murphy.

Mr Blake's appeal on social media for help finding Monty was answered by volunteers. They included a local gamekeeper, a drone operator and people with a camera trap and sniffer dogs.

On Tuesday afternoon, Mr Blake's mother-in-law heard barking coming from a hole in a cliff in the woods.

Image copyright Chris Blake
Image caption Chris Blake being reunited with Monty

Mr Blake, who runs a geosciences company which specialises in environmental and geotechnical site investigation, had the brainwave to use his business' specialist excavation kit to free Monty.

Two hydraulic jacks were hauled up the hillside to try and prise open the narrow crack in an attempt to rescue the dog on Wednesday.

Using the jacks, the rock face was split open allowing Mr Blake and his helpers to get closer to Monty.

The geologist said: "The more we dug, the louder the barking got."

The team of rescuers burrowed 2m (6ft) down and 3m (10ft) into the hillside.

Image copyright Chris Blake
Image caption Mr Blake said it was an emotional reunion with Monty

Mr Blake paid tribute to his employee, 18-year-old Louis Ray, who dug for three hours trying to get to Monty, who was wedged between two rocks.

"It was unbelievable the shift he put in," said Mr Blake.

They eventually saw the dog's nose and a search volunteer arrived on the scene and offered, because he was smaller, to go into the hole to try and rescue the stricken dog.

He managed to get right into the excavated ground so much so that he was completely out of sight. As he plucked the dog to safety, those above pulled the "hero" volunteer out by his ankles.

Mr Blake said it was an emotional reunion with Monty, adding: "There were tears and everything and the dog was licking my face."

A vet who checked Monty found him to be de-hydrated and he had sore hips but expected him to make a full recovery.

The vet said if the dog had been in the hole for even a day or two longer he would not have survived due to exhaustion.

Asked if he will take his dogs into the woods anytime soon, Mr Blake said: "Not in a million years, we'll stick to the beach from now on."

Image copyright Chris Blake
Image caption Monty is expected to make a full recovery from his ordeal

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