Lights not out as Sparky the survivor dog returns home

CELEBRITY adventurer Bear Grylls would be impressed, after a Selkirkshire dog survived 16 days on his own in the Dumfriesshire countryside.

The Collie cross is recovering well from his fur-raising ordeal, when the curious canine ran away from owner Steve McLachlan at Grey Mare’s Tail near Moffat.

After searching the area and putting up posters appealing for any sightings, Sparky was finally spotted more than two weeks later on a ledge at the bottom of the waterfall, eventually being rescued by a mountain rescue team.

Mr McLachlan, from Lindean, told TheSouthern: “He is a bit more nervous than usual but almost back to normal.

“I don’t think we will be going back to the Grey Mare’s Tail soon but if we do I will make sure I keep a close eye on him.”

The extraordinary survival story began on October 15 while Mr McLachlan and his family were walking in the Grey Mare’s Tail area.

Mr McLachlan explains: “Sparky chased after some goats as I handed the lead to my wife, pulling me off my feet.

“Then he disappeared and we didn’t see him again for 16 days.”

Posters were put up by Mr McLachlan in the area where Sparky was last seen, but initially proved unsuccessful, and the family were resigned to not seeing their beloved pet again.

Mr McLachlan said: “We returned in the days after Sparky went missing but saw no sign of him.

“We had a couple of false alarms by people who said they had heard a dog but we thought it was probably other dogs in the area as the sounds echoes off the waterfall.

“But then on November 1 someone rang saying they heard a dog and had seen him on a ledge at the side of the waterfall. They said he had a red collar which made it pretty clear that it was him.”

Moffat Mountain Rescue Team were called out and rescued Sparky by abseiling down the gorge to reunite the 12-year-old with his owners.

Mr McLachlan added: “Moffat Mountain Rescue Team could not have done more – they really knew what they were doing. We got him to the vets and his weight had fallen from 18kgs to 12kgs and he was understandably weak. But apart from that he seemed fine.

“I really don’t know what he was doing for the 16 days. He was on the opposite side of the waterfall from where we last saw him so whether he was wandering around or then got stuck on the ledge, I’m not sure. The problem is, you cannot ask him.”

Scottish SPCA Inspector Janet Proudlock said: “When Sparky was found he had already lost a third of his body weight so he wouldn’t have survived for much longer.

“His owners were very sensible to distribute posters in the area with their contact details as this is ultimately how they were able to find him.

“Sparky is an incredibly lucky dog and I was delighted to be present at the happy reunion between him and his owner.”