TUALATIN -- A Tualatin family is relieved after a six-hour effort to rescue their Labrador from a ledge on the edge of the Sandy river Wednesday.
“You want to play ball? Where’s your ball?,” said 9-year-old Jordan Tibbets as his dog “JD” licked his face.
On Thursday, he appreciated the licks even more.
“I thought he was gone for a second,” said Jordan.
On Wednesday, Jordan and his dad Cary were fishing in their favorite secret spot east of Sandy when the black lab went for a swim and got caught in the river's strong current.
“It was an interesting day,” deadpanned Cary Tibbets.
The dog made it to a ledge on the edge of the water but was trapped by the river and a big cliff wall behind him. Cary tried to wade the river to get the lab.
“The only time I felt helpless was when my dog, my boy's best friend, is just 21 feet away from me and I can’t get em,” he said.
Tibbets called for help on his cell, which brought out the all-volunteer Oregon Humane Society Technical Animal Rescue Team.
Jennifer Stangel rappelled over the cliff—not sure whether the dog was still on the ledge or already swept away.
"That was probably the most anxious part of it. Is he down here and if he is what condition is he in?” Stangel said.
She found the dog hunkered down beside a log on the ledge. Then she had to convince him to trust her.
“(I) pulled out a little strip of cloth that we'd gotten from the owner, (one) that he had wiped all over his face, so it smelled like him. So that really helped. Because he really sniffed that quite a bit and then looked at me and then I gave him some cheese. And it didn’t take long before he was putting his paw out and you know leaning towards me,” said Stangel.
But "JD" seemed too weak to walk. She coaxed him with more cheese and eventually put a special dog harness on him.
Then, with the help of her team, they brought "JD" up for the reunion with his family.
It was Stangel’s first rescue. She loved it.
“Yeah, ha, ha, I saved a dog. And I didn’t do it by myself,” she said.
As "JD" chased a ball for Jordan, it was clear the rescuer was not the only one thrilled by the outcome.