In May 2017 I was spending a few days in Cardrona to look after my cousins dogs while they went to the USA. I took my own dog, Huw, a 5 year old Border Collie with me.
The river Tweed is very close to my cousin’s home so I took the three dogs for their morning walk along the Tweed Valley Railway Path every day I was there.
The three of them splashed about happily in the river without incident until the fourth day of our visit. The river was running quite fast and my collie, Huw somehow managed to get himself caught up in the flow and I saw he was struggling to get back to the bank, Huw has never swum in a river, he is a `paddler’ and keeps close to the bank. He started to panic and was taken by the flow of the river. He was in the middles, all I could do was watch.
There was a large rock in the middle of the river and I encouraged him to get to it, which he eventually managed to do. After a short struggle he managed to climb on to the rock but he was exhausted and very frightened and clung on to it for dear life.
I had no idea what to do. I tried to encourage him to swim to the bank. My cousin’s dogs, who are good swimmers were swimming around him, obviously wondering what all the fuss was about. Huw had decided he was staying put.
After ten or fifteen minutes of trying to coax him off the rock I thought I would step into the river to try and get as close as I could, the bed was very rocky and slippery and I decided against that idea and went back to the bank of the River. Quite some time passed, I hoped someone might come by and try to help me but I hadn’t seen anyone at all that morning. I was about to dial 999 when a lady on a bike came along the footpath and offered her help. To my astonishment she was a member of the Tweed Valley Mountain Rescue Team out on a ride. Her name was Emma, and as it happens, she had only just completed her river rescue course!
Emma took no time in wading into the river towards Huw, she took his lead with her, hoping that if she put it on him he would swim back with her guiding him. Huw had other ideas, he was staying put, and was holding on to the rock with his front legs for dear life.
Emma had no choice but to pick him up and carry him back to the bank. Emma is tiny, Huw weighs 25 kilos, but after what felt like an eternity both Emma and Huw made it back to the bank. Huw was fine, and very happy to be back on terra firma and showed his appreciated by bombarding Emma with kisses galore!
He was no worse for his ordeal and after a few minutes of my profusely thanking Emma we carried on with our walk and made it back home safely. You have no idea of how grateful I was and still am to her.
The next day the river was very high, it had rained and the rock had disappeared under the water. It was then I realised that I could have lost Huw.
I live alone and Huw is my constant companion, Emma did more than rescue my dog that day, she rescued my best friend and I am so grateful to her.
The work all Mountain Rescuers do is amazing, they put their own welfare at risk to help people, and (if they can) animals who are in difficulty.
Whenever we are walking near a river now, I make sure Huw stays close to the edge and does not go out of his depth. He still likes splashing around in the water, but he too makes sure all his feet are in contact with ground.
The support and assistance that Emma provided to Ann and Huw during these events, was not part of an official Mountain Rescue Call-out. However, there have been many instances like this where team members have been able to use their skills to go to the aid of others when they have needed help. For example, it is quite a common scenario for team members to find themselves utilising their first aid skills when they come across an accident. Mountain Rescue teams will always aim to help where they can, but as teams we can only respond to a rescue when requested by Police Scotland, and have to ensure that first and foremost we are always available to serve our core function of saving human lives.