Saturday, February 27, 2010


After Chasing a
Seagull Off a Clifftop

A dog that chased a seagull off a 300ft cliff miraculously survived when she landed with a belly-flop in the sea below.

Poppy, a three-year-old springer spaniel, ran off the clifftop in East Sussex so fast she managed to avoid the beach and plunge into deep water, which cushioned her fall.

She then saved herself from drowning by doggy-paddling back to the shore where she calmly waited to be rescued.

Poppy was being taken for a walk by Lia Markwick and Stephen Winslade, as a favor to her owners, Lia's brother Ben Markwick and his partner Kelly Ixer.

It would seem the excitement of the sea air got the better of her as she ran away from Miss Markwick and Mr Winslade near the clifftop at the Seven Sisters' beauty spot in Seaford, East Sussex

Miss Markwick, 29, said: 'We were about 100 yards from the edge and she was to the side of us away from the cliffs but she saw this seagull and just bolted.

'She is normally very obedient but we called at her to stop and she didn't. She carried on and just went over the edge at such speed. It all happened so quickly. I thought "Oh my God" and then felt physically sick.

'Stephen peered over the edge, expecting the worse but he saw her paddling in the sea and barking. The cliff had a overhang, so we couldn't see that there was a small beach below which Poppy was heading towards.'

After landing in the sea, Poppy is cold, wet and suffering from shock and a collapsed lung, then is rescued after she swam to the foot of the cliff-face.
'There was no way of getting down to her because it was a sheer cliff, so it was like she had survived this enormous fall but was now going to drown.'
The couple called the coastguard and an RNLI crew was despatched to the scene. A crew member spotted a shocked and dishevelled Poppy sheltering on a rock and plucked her to safety.

A small Y-boat  launched to rescue the spaniel from the beach underneath the cliff.

Miss Ixer, a teaching assistant, said: 'I got a call from Lia to say that Poppy had fallen off a cliff but she was okay. I expected it to have only been a little fall, not a 300 ft sheer drop. What we think saved her was that she bolted off at full pelt and the momentum was enough to take her over the beach and the surf and into deeper water.'

Poppy was taken to a vet in Brighton where it was discovered she had suffered a partially collapsed lung. But within 24 hours it had inflated by itself and Poppy has gone on to make a full recovery.

Miss Ixer, who lives in the village of Ansty, West Sussex, with Mr Markwick and their three-week-old son Henry, said: 'It is really quite amazing she survived at all. She is so, so lucky. She is well trained and will sit and heel when told but at the end of the day she isn't human and I guess her animal instinct took over. Next time we take her walking near the cliffs we will make sure she is on a lead.'

Rescued: A coast guard warms Poppy up with a blanket

Her owners - Kelly Ixer, 26, and Ben Markwick, 31, said they were ''indebted'' to the lifeboat team.

Mr Markwick added: 'She should be a goner really. I still can't see how she could survive a fall like that. We are just thankful to the RNLI and the coast guards for saving her.'

Newhaven volunteer Gavin Butcher said: 'She was shivering — she was cold and nervous but apart from that she was as good as gold.'

Volunteer lifeboat crew member Gavin Butcher was part of the Newhaven-based team that headed to Brass Point, Seven Sisters, on February 14. Mr Butcher, 46, from Newhaven, said: ''Myself and another crew member have both got springer spaniels ourselves so we were very relieved. Springer spaniels tend to get excited and I believe she was chasing a seagull at the time."

Paul Legendre, of Newhaven RNLI, said: 'The dog fell 300ft and in 30 years I have been doing this I have only known one other dog to have survived such a fall.The tide was coming in at the time and luckily there was enough water to break her fall and enough beach to stop her from drowning.'

Springer spaniel Poppy, pictured with her owners Kelly Ixer and Ben Markwick and their three-week-old son Henry, survived a 300 foot drop off a cliff.


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