Fiona Reid was enjoying a leisurely stroll with her daughter Freya, eight, and their spirited cocker spaniel, Baxter in Cleadon Park, South Shields, on Saturday, June 4, when disaster struck.
Fiona noticed the nine-and-a-half-year-old pooch had gone missing, and mother and daughter began frantically looking all over the park for their lively canine.
After hearing some familiar barks, Fiona located Baxter who’d managed to tumble down a hole made by a fallen tree which had come down in the park.
Fiona said: “When I realised he couldn’t get back out himself, I tried in vain for half-an-hour to rescue Baxter from the hole. But with no success.
“I could see that he was becoming increasingly distressed by the minute, and the more he panicked the more soil was coming down on top of him - making it harder to retrieve him.”
Fearing time was against her and unable to help the hound out herself, Fiona decided to dial 999 and ask for help from firefighters.
The emergency call went through to the Fire Control Team at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service at 3.25pm, and within four minutes a crew from Green Watch at South Shields Community Fire Station were at the scene with an appliance and ready to help out the hindered hound.
Fiona praised the excellent skills and organisation of the firefighters as she told how events unfolded on that worrying afternoon.
She said: “I was very relieved when Baxter was rescued. The firefighters were great.
“They managed to free him in less than five-minutes, and at every step of the way they were trying to calm him down as he’d became agitated.”
A relieved Fiona has also offered some useful advice to other dog owners who may not be aware of the risks.
“Always be alert to the dangers when you’re out and about with your dog,” she said.
"I was always of the opinion that if they can get in, then they can get out. But this was definitely not in the case for our Baxter.”
Steven Bewick, Station Manager at South Shields Community Fire Station, said the crews were happy to reunite the mother and daughter with Baxter.
He said dogs’ curious nature could often land them in trouble.
“It’s amazing just how quickly a fun stroll in the park can become tainted within the blink of an eye,” said Steven.
“Dogs are naturally inquisitive and they will always follow their nose to discover the next adventure.
“But as proven by Baxter’s misfortunes even some places that appear to be safe and fine can actually be dangerous for our four-legged friends.
“We were happy to lend a hand and reunite Baxter and Fiona together to enjoy the rest of their walk in the peaceful surroundings.”
For further information about the work of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, visit the organisation’s website at www.twfire.gov.uk