If there’s one thing that nobody ever wants to see, it’s a puppy in danger. Sometimes there is nothing that we can do if the danger would also be brought onto ourselves, but some people are willing to risk life and limb for our furry four legged friends. In Pauma Valley, California earlier this month, a farmhand that was working in an avocado grove heard some howls off of North Mesa Drive and decided to go investigate.


What the worker found was a two month old German Shepherd puppy crying in the early hours of a Saturday morning after he had fallen halfway down a ravine that was believed to be 200 feet deep. Unable to save the poor pup on his own since he didn’t have the equipment, the farm worker called up the San Diego County Department of Animal Services, and they certainly sent the right person out for the job.


That person is 54 year old Denise Gove, who volunteers with the department as part of their animal rescue squad. Lieutenant Loren Bunnell of the SDDAS said that “I called Denise and I explained the situation. She expressed that she has been trained in rappelling and was eager to respond.” When they got the call, Gove was with a team that was training in Jamul, California for situations just like this one. It wasn’t a short drive as Jamul is about two hours away, but they made it with the dog still situated safely on a cliff.

Gove then got her rappelling equipment out and started working her way down the ravine. Gove said that it wasn’t the steepness that made it tough, but the fact that the ravine was so eroded that finding her footing underneath the crumbling rocks was nearly impossible. Eventually, Gove got down to where the puppy was and comforted her where Lt. Bunnell said that the puppy “clung onto that bush until Officer Gove dropped from the sky to rescue.”


Most scared dogs wouldn’t be willing to be touched, but Gove said that “She was very much willing to go” when she reached down to pick her up. Gove held the dog close, and she instantly responded positively. When they got back up to safety at the top of the ravine, the dog showed no signs of being scared. Instead, she was wagging her tale and smiling big for the rescue team.


Even more impressive, the dog showed no signs of major injuries. Despite making a nearly 100 foot fall down a cliff and being stranded for hours, Gove said that the dog only suffered from scratches and wasn’t even all that thirsty. Gove and the team took the puppy back to Carlsbad, California where the department is headquartered and her story was told across Southern California.

Almost instantly, people were inquiring about adopting the cute and brave dog and coming to see her at the shelter. One family said that “This little dog just spoke to me” and wanted to adopt her there on the spot. The selection process is still going on as there have been a lot of interested applicants, and they are making sure to find the right forever home for the survivor.