Loyal pup Jack takes the lead in night-time rescue operation
A man who fell down a steep bank while out for a walk has said he might never have been found but for the dog who stayed by his side and alerted gardaí to his location.
Pat Brennan (62) was taking his four-legged friend Jack out for his nightly walk on Monday when he fell down a ditch on a bog road just outside Portarlington on the Laois-Offaly border and disappeared into the dark undergrowth below.
Jack, who is only a year old, could have run away, but he stayed on the road close to Pat.
"I'm a bit of an astronomy geek, and I had noticed a planet beside the moon while out walking, and I was looking up, wondering which one it was," Pat said from his home in the town.
"Jack was scratching around beside me, and when I went to move on again he kind of jerked the lead and knocked me off balance.
"I've had a stroke in the past so my balance isn't great, and I ended up falling sideways down the bank and out of view. I knew there was no way I could get out, and I also feared that Jack might just run off, because he's only a pup."
Thankfully Pat was able to dial 999 on his mobile phone, but then he realised he had another problem.
"When you ring the emergency services you get through to a central control station, probably in Dublin. You don't get through to anyone locally," he said.
"So I had to tell them I was somewhere on the bog road in Portarlington, and they had to pass the message on to the local gardaí."
A local garda unit was sent out to try and find Pat, but it was dark by this stage, and he was injured and stuck at the bottom of the bank.
"After about 10 minutes I could hear a car going by, but there was no way for me to alert them or draw their attention to me. But then when they spotted Jack they knew I must be nearby," Pat explained.
"They were able to come to my aid because they spotted Jack whimpering on the road, and they called an ambulance to check me over," he added.
"I wasn't too badly hurt, just a few cuts and bruises, and I was able to go home after being checked."
Jack is now getting special treatment himself at home - being spoiled by Pat and his wife Melanie.
"Jack had followed me home from the shops one day about six months ago, and we fell in love with him. He hadn't been chipped but we had to bring him to the local dog pound in case someone claimed him," said Melanie.
"When nobody came for him, we got Jack as a rescue dog, and now he has repaid that favour by doing a bit of rescuing himself," said Melanie, patting Jack and getting ready for a walk.