Volunteer Rappels 75 Feet through Brambles, Poison Oak to Save Dog Trapped on Canby Hillside

For over a week, Canby residents wondered what animal was trapped on the steep, bramble and poison oak-infested hillside behind their neighborhood in Village on the Lochs.

The whimper sounded like a cat, or perhaps some type of wild animal. It wasn’t until the eighth day that it started to sound like what it actually was: a dog. Specifically, a miniature Australian shepherd/mix that had somehow managed to get itself stuck approximately 75 feet down the dangerous and inaccessible hillside.

Approximation of where the dog was trapped in the Village on the Lochs neighborhood. Satellite image courtesy Google Maps.

Inaccessible, that is, to anyone but the brave volunteers with the Oregon Humane Society’s Emergency Animal Rescue Team, also known as OHSTAR.

OHSTAR members are specially trained in animal rescue techniques, as well as safety and first aid. They respond to animal emergencies needing cliff rescue, water rescue, and other urgent situations in the Portland metro area and surrounding counties.

Virginia Krakowiak led the mission on Monday, July 16. Even after rappelling down, she said the animal was buried under thick layers of brush and almost impossible to find.

“I could only see it once I was down, pressed against the brambles, and I caught a flash of its orange collar,” she said. “I mean, it was a needle in a giant haystack.”

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It’s a mystery how, or why, the dog ended up where he did, but he was uninjured and in remarkably good shape for an animal that had been without food or water for at least eight days.

He had no microchip or tag but was wearing a collar. No owner has yet been identified for the pup, who’s currently in the care of Clackamas County Dog Services. If the owner does not come forward, Krakowiak’s not worried.

“I think there is someone who misses him,” she says. “And if not, we know lots of nearby resident that want to go and adopt him. He won the hearts of many.”

She recalled trying to put a muzzle on the pup, a routine safety precaution in rescue operations, but he wasn’t having it.

“He kept pulling it off. He just wanted to give everybody kisses,” she said with a laugh. “He was a very sweet boy that was ready to get out of there.”

Photos courtesy Stephanie Wisdom.

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