POWYS firefighters have been described as “gentle giants” and “absolute heroes” for rescuing a dog whose owners thought he’d perished after plummeting 60 feet into a river last year.

A river rescue team from Hay-on-Wye was joined by a crew from Builth Wells, with all nine coming to the aid of Milo the border collie, who was holidaying in Powys with owners Lyndsey and Rob last September.

After getting into difficulty when they took a detour, Milo disappeared and fell 60 feet off a cliff into the river near Erwood.

But rescuers miraculously found Mile safe and well thanks to the intrepid team of firefighters – including one known as ‘the dog whisperer’.


“We had been walking in the Black Mountains a few days before and by the name I was apprehensive, but once I got up there I realised it was a really safe walk,” said Lyndsey, whose story was shared on Hay Fire Station’s Facebook page this week.

“We had taken extra clothing, food, maps, a phone and a first aid kit, and told someone our location. None of it was needed and we had a lovely time. So, ending a simple walk across fields and forests felt a breeze.”

She added: “We followed the route shown on out ordinance survey map. We should have stopped earlier as a lot of the entrances were blocked where we should have been able to get through easily.

“We took the green path on the map but had to keep going further and further because of blocked routes. We thought we were on a good track on our way home through the forest but the path disappeared.

“The ground was steep with a lot of loose debris. Getting a solid footing was hard. We kept thinking the path would improve in a while.

“I felt scared that something was wrong. I said maybe we should hook Milo’s lead to his harness just in case there was a drop we couldn’t see for the trees, but it would have actually been more dangerous to have him pulling us where the ground was so uneven."

Lyndsey describes hearing a "crack and a yelp" as Milo plunged into the river, and when Rob saw the drop he thought it was impossible he had survived.

"I cried out and Milo cried back," she added. "I heard him running in the water trying to get back to us.”

Lyndsey and Rob called the Mid and West Wales Fire and Rescue Service, and spent an hour and a half calling out to her dog.

"It was crucial he stayed there and didn’t try to find a way out and lose us,” said Lyndsey.

“Being separated and hearing him call will haunt me. Eventually we saw someone scramble along the side of the ravine to where we were. He told us a team of fire fighters from Hay-On-Wye, that are trained for rescues in the water, were making their way along the river to Milo.

“That was a 45-minute trek in waders to find him. Two other firefighters from Builth came along to help us out of there but not before Milo had been spotted.

“When they got below us they couldn’t see him at first. He had made his way onto a ledge trying to get back to us. One of the firefighters from Hay was nicknamed the ‘dog whisperer’ and he spotted him and Milo went to him. I heard them all laughing and I burst into tears.

County Times:

“The firefighters that rescued us said that they abseil down to that waterfall sometimes and it’s a 50 to 60 foot drop.

“The firefighter that gave him back to me confided that he had lost his dog three days prior and it felt like a gift to be able to help Milo and find him in one piece. These gentle giants were absolute heroes. They were so kind and reassuring.”

The crew of six from Hay Fire Station included crew managers Harry Ratcliffe, Stephen Ratcliffe and Richard Wildee, watch manager Jeremy Turner and firefighters Luke Newton and Adrian Lawford - the dog whisperer.

They were joined by Luke Dewinton, Dan Bridgeman and Huey Lloyd from Builth.