Community Papers

Family grateful dog alive after it jumps off cliff

Nick and Liz Willmot and their children, Oliver, 8, and Maddy, 6, are glad to have their rat terrier Piper back and uninjured after she jumped off a cliff while chasing a squirrel on Haida Gwaii. - MARGARET SPEIRS
Nick and Liz Willmot and their children, Oliver, 8, and Maddy, 6, are glad to have their rat terrier Piper back and uninjured after she jumped off a cliff while chasing a squirrel on Haida Gwaii.
— image credit: MARGARET SPEIRS

Nick Willmot never thought he'd see his rat terrier alive after the dog jumped off a cliff while chasing a squirrel July 9.

Nick had just climbed up the 410 foot Tow Cliff on Graham Island, Haida Gwaii  and saw the dog ahead, running back and forth, which the eight-pound Piper did when she saw a squirrel.

"To her, a squirrel is just a rat with a fluffy tail," said Nick July 25.

Piper took a run at the squirrel and a bird that flew by and went off the cliff without a sound. Figuring the dog was dead, Nick checked the bottom of the cliff and didn't see or hear the dog.

"The kids were very upset," said Liz, Nick's wife.

The family returned home to Terrace, mourning the loss of Piper.

But then, July 12, Toni Lynn Davidson, who had rented a cabin at the bottom of the cliff, found Piper. Davidson figured the dog's owner was camping there when she saw her running on the beach, but realized later that her owner wasn't there.

Thanks to the dog's name and the family's phone numbers on its tag, they got a phone call from Davidson that Piper was alive.

Liz called Inland Air, which flies between Haida Gwaii and Prince Rupert with a float plane, and the company agreed to fly Piper to Rupert July 14.

"They were so good about it. They brought her over in a crate. I was expecting to pay a fee but they said 'no problem we just want to help out,'" said Liz.

There were logs and bushes down the cliff, and the family thinks maybe Piper was knocked out and spent two days getting down the cliff.

And the dog escaped with only a scratch.

"She really is just fine," said Liz.

"It's only because of that dog tag that she called and we got Piper back," said Liz about their phone numbers being on Piper's dog tag.

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