“They called and told me there was a dog stuck on a cliff that they couldn’t get to because of their insurance, but I could do it independently,” McNabb said. “So I went with my father and brother the next morning.”
McNabb, a rising senior at Dobyns-Bennett High School, had been trained in rock climbing, rappelling and high-angle rescue as a member of Boy Scout Troop 48. McNabb said other volunteers at the fire department knew of his training, which led them to contact him.
A few days before McNabb received the call, signs of the dog’s entrapment were being noticed around the Baker Bluff subdivision, near the end of Gilders Private Drive in Colonial Heights.
Jane Cushman, a nearby resident, wrote on Facebook, “Her barks and howls were lost for three days amid the voices of other animals terrified by the sounds of fireworks and celebrations of our Independence Day. By Thursday it was apparent that the barks and howling we were continuing to hear from the steep, densely foliated cliff across the lake were those of a puppy pleading for help and her life.”
Nearby residents searched the area for two days, trying to catch a glimpse of the dog, a 9-month-old beagle mix named Rosie, to determine her exact location. She was eventually spotted on an almost vertical slope, where McNabb said she got trapped.
“There was a false bottom at the top of the cliff where some bushes had grown up, and they think she had been up there since the Fourth of July,” McNabb said. “They think she was running away and was walking through what she thought were some bushes. She actually slid down a chute where there was some water, and that’s probably what was able to sustain her.”
Once residents had caught sight of Rosie, they informed volunteers at the fire department, who called McNabb. After arriving at the area around 8 a.m. on Saturday to map out a rescue plan, McNabb began the climb at 9 a.m., with his father and brother following behind.
When Rosie caught sight of her rescuers, McNabb said her relief was evident.
“She was really excited to see people,” McNabb said. “She wouldn’t stop barking on our way up, but once we got there, she calmed down.”
McNabb outfitted Rosie with a dog life jacket and hooked her to a lanyard. They then used speed line to safely transport her down the 60-foot slope.
Two and a half hours later, Rosie and her rescuers made it back to flat ground, where Rosie was reunited with her grateful owner. Though it could have been a high-stress situation, McNabb said he, his father and his brother all kept a level-head in order to save Rosie.
“It was like any type of rock climbing,” McNabb said. “We just stayed rather collected going towards it, like anything we do. I see that at Warriors Path Volunteer Fire Department. You have to be calm when things come your way and deal with them accordingly.”