The first day of the Year of the Dog had special meaning for two canines rescued unharmed from a cliff at San Francisco's Fort Funston Friday morning.
The dogs were on an outing with their owner around 7:11 a.m. when they slid down a slope, coming to rest on a steep cliff near the hang glider deck in the city's Outer Sunset District, according to fire department spokesman Lt. Jonathan Baxter.
The owner called authorities immediately, asking for help.
"Their companion did the right thing by not diving over the cliff for the dogs, because that usually results in human rescue or recovery," Baxter said.
Firefighters set up a rope rescue, lowering Firefighter-Paramedic Art Julaton to the cliff to save the dogs.
"We use what is called a high-angle rope rescue, a series of ropes tethered to the rescuer" and anchored to a fire truck or rescue vehicle, Baxter said.
"The rescuer goes down under tension and we have special harnesses for dogs," Baxter said. "We comfort the dog before we reach out - we don't want to get bitten."
Next, the rescuer attaches the harness to the dog, and eight to 10 firefighters holding the rope pull the rescuer up slowly, Baxter said.
Once rescued, "usually the dog gets happy and doesn't realize what kind of a mess he was in," Baxter said.