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Atherton Tree-Climbing Dog Not As Adept At Getting Down

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A firefighter climbs a ladder to rescue "Gunness" who got stuck high up in a tree while chasing a raccoon. (Bay City News)

A firefighter climbs a ladder to rescue “Gunness” who got stuck high up in a tree while chasing a raccoon. (Bay City News)

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ATHERTON (CBS SF) – When a call came in last week to a San Mateo County emergency dispatch center that a dog had climbed 30 feet up a tree in Atherton and couldn’t get down, no one believed it.

Menlo Park Fire Protection District Fire Chief Harold Schapelhouman said that in his 32 years of service, he’s rescued plenty of cats that were stuck in trees, and even some exotic pet birds, but never a dog.

“The dispatchers thought, ‘Whoever it is must be wrong,’” Schapelhouman said. “I’ve never seen or heard of a dog that could climb a tree.”

On June 19 at about 9 p.m., a 40-pound Wheaten Terrier named “Guinness” pursued a raccoon high into the branches of an oak tree. Guinness got stuck, and his owner climbed the tree but couldn’t reach him.

When firefighters arrived, the dog was suspended in branches hanging over a drainage channel, Schapelhouman said.

Firefighters used an improvised rescue harness, a rope system and a 36-foot ladder to reach Guinness, who was frozen in place, nervous and shaking.

Firefighter Tony Eggimann climbed the ladder, secured Guinness in his harness and gave him a treat, Schapelhouman said.

The dog was safely carried down and reunited with his grateful owners.

Schapelhouman, who said he has had decades of experience working with highly trained search-and-rescue dogs, said he has never seen a canine scale a tree like Guinness.

“Its unbelievable,” he said. “That dog could really climb.”

Guinness’ owners have since put a fence around the tree.

(Copyright 2012 by CBS San Francisco and Bay City News Service. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

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