Real Life

Canine catastrophy!

Firefighters are used to rescuing cats from up trees but accident-prone puppy Rabuka created a new challenge when he fell down a drain.

owner Margaret Pritchard (34) only discovered Rabuka was trapped when she heard a strange whimpering from an old storm water outlet in the garage of her Auckland home.

She tried to rescue Rabuka but the pipe is only 8cm wide and 700 metres long, and there was no way she could reach the distressed dog, then just a week old.

The only option was to call in the fire brigade and it was up to officer Lyall Kennedy to come up with a rescue plan.

Shining a torch up the pipe, he could see Rabuka and realised the dog was beyond his reach, firmly wedged in the narrow space.

“Trying to snare him with a noose of rope around a long window wiper didn’t work,” says Lyall. “I’ve never had to use a vacuum cleaner at work, but the idea suddenly popped into my head.”

By feeding the vacuum hose along the pipe and turning the suction on low, Lyall was able to gently pull the puppy to safety over 20 minutes, and pass him to Margaret.

“It could have got messy, because the next step was to lift up the concrete into the garage and get to the dog that way,” says Lyall.

This isn’t the first time the Fire Service have helped Margaret in distress. once her son Cassius (4) was locked in the car after a gust of wind blew the door shut, and firefighters were there in a matter of minutes to free him.

The mum of three thinks that Rabuka’s accident happened when mum Lola was moving her puppies around in the garage, and Rabuka tumbled down the drain.

“We’d already lost one of the puppies, Patchy, to ill health, and Rabuka was the runt of the litter, so I thought we might lose him as well,” says Margaret. “But it’s turned out that he’s a strong little boy – such a fighter.”

Margaret plans to sell Rabuka and his remaining litter mate oikayla on Trade oe, with the money raised going to the Leukaemia Foundation, which supported Margaret and her family when her partner Samuel o’Connor died last year of the disease at the age of 27.

“It’s so hard with him gone and Cassius misses his dad so much. But when he died, the foundation people were very empathetic and caring,” she says. “This way, I can make sure Rabuka and his sister go to the best possible homes and raise money for the charity as a way of saying thank you.”

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