Nobody seems to know how a dog ended up trapped on the side of a steep cliff in rural Idaho. Nor is it clear how long he sat huddled on the rocks. It’s possible he fell from the top of the mesa or climbed up and couldn’t find a route back down.
“We’re scratching our heads either way,” said Dave Wright, one of the two men who rescued the dog.
Wright is the president and founder of Jerome-based Friends Furever Animal Rescue, which is treating the dog and fostering him while trying to track down his owner.
Wright first heard about the pup’s plight on Sunday morning. As he made his morning coffee and scrolled through Facebook, he saw a post from a Gooding-area dog group about a Great Pyrenees stuck on the canyon edge near Bliss. Wright immediately commented, asking for coordinates to the dog’s location.
Through Friends Furever, Wright has quite a bit of experience tracking down dogs in trouble.
“We as a rescue don’t just have owner surrenders,” Wright said in a phone interview. “We actively trap feral dogs, lost dogs. We’ve got a lot of experience in recovery in a lot of situations, often harrowing, often heart-wrenching.”
He took at look at the terrain around the dog’s location using Google Earth, called up fellow volunteer and rock climber Richard Jensen, and headed out to the cliff, where Jensen flew a drone near the dog to try to locate a path up the rock face.
“We have to be careful that we don’t scare the dog, but we wanted to look at possible routes,” said Wright, who often goes peak scrambling, climbing tough terrain on hands and feet.
The pair began the climb to reach the dog. When they reached him, they slipped a leash over his head, gave him some water and looked him over to ensure he wasn’t in need of immediate medical attention. He appeared to have some scrapes and bruises but no major injuries.
“Once we were able to gain his trust ... we started to bring him down,” Wright said.
Right away, they vaccinated the dog against parvovirus, which Wright said is common in the area. The contagious illness causes gastrointestinal issues and can often lead to death. Next they took him to Windswept Kennels to be cleaned up.
“He was full of fleas,” Wright said.
Wright and Jensen decided to name the dog Clifford as a nod to his unusual rescue. Clifford had a check-up at the vet on Monday, where he was found to have a few slightly infected sores that are already healing. He’s been placed in a foster home while the rescue works on finding an owner and putting some weight back on the skinny dog.
“He’s super sweet,” Wright said of the dog, who they believe is about a year-and-a-half old. “He’s fine with other dogs, he’s fine with cats. If he isn’t claimed, we go through a pretty thorough process to find him a home.”
Friends Furever is asking for donations to help with food and medical care for Clifford and the other dogs in their care. According to a Facebook post about the rescue, several people have already donated, to the tune of more than $700.