Faithful dog waited three cold, rain-lashed days on mountain ledge for owner to rescue him


Last updated at 16:02 03 January 2008

For three cold, rain-lashed days and nights Diff the dog shivered on a narrow mountain ledge, faithfully waiting for his owner to rescue him.

Animal experts believe that if the 150lb bull mastiff felt he had been abandoned he would have probably tried to clamber up the cliff – and fallen to his death.

But Diff apparently knew that his owner, bushwalker David Gibson, would come back for him, despite the atrocious, unseasonal weather and the dangerous location on the side of Mt Maroon in Queensland, Australia.

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And late yesterday, after patiently sitting on the narrow ledge for 72 hours, Diff's patience was rewarded when a brave abseiller, Mark Gamble, guided to the scene by Mr Gibson, lowered himself down to the ledge.

Then the tricky operation of fitting a harness around Diff began, with Mr Gamble dangling from a rope - and hoping that Diff wasn't going to sink his big jaws into him.

But Diff appeared to accept that he was being rescued and gave his full co-operation as the harness was fitted.

Then Mr Gamble and the bull mastiff continued on down the cliff face on the end of a rope until they could reach firm ground.

It was a courageous operation that even experienced mountaineers and the RSPCA believed could not be accomplished in the treacherous conditions.

But Mr Gibson was determined he was not going to leave his dog on the ledge and Mr Gamble was more than willing to risk his own life to save the dog.

The dramatic rescue came after Mr Gibson himself had to be rescued three days earlier when he and a friend – along with Diff – slipped on the cliff edge while out walking.

Diff fell further and when the men tried to reach him they became trapped.

When they failed to return home the alarm was raised and a search party set out to find them.

It was Diff's barking that led the search team to the cliff edge, where the men were found on a ledge, with Diff on another ledge below them.

Rescuers were able to help the men back to the cliff top but they said it was far too dangerous to try to save the dog.

Mr Gibson and friends managed to lower water and food to Diff over the following days but no-one seemed willing to risk trying to reach the dog in the lashing rain – until Mr Gamble stepped forward, offering to live up to his name and get Diff off the ledge.

And so the rescue operation began – and ended in great success.

Last night Diff was tucking into a large steak, none the worse for his precarious nights on the ledge.

But if he could talk, he might have declared that man is a dog's best friend.