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'Miracle dog' survives after being swept over waterfalls twice

Little hope of finding 14-month-old Lab retriever

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Jennifer McLeod had lost any hope of finding her dog alive.

It had been almost a full day since 14-month-old Mya went over the Cheakamus River falls, and there was still no sign of her. The local police detachment had even sent McLeod information on water levels so she could retrieve Mya's body once the river dropped. The outlook wasn't optimistic, to say the least.

"I had to expect the worst because if I expected the best and it was the worst possible outcome, it would've just killed me," McLeod said.

McLeod was on a hike with a friend late last month when they stopped to take a picture near the falls. Mya, like most red fox Labradors, loves the water, and McLeod began to call for her once she noticed the dog had waded too far into the river.

"She got caught in the current, and when I turned around, I saw her face like, 'oh (crap), what's going on?'" McLeod recalled. "She went over the falls and we saw her head come up once, maybe twice, and then we didn't see her again."

The local police were soon called to the scene to assist in the search. After two and a half hours, Mya was still nowhere to be found, so McLeod decided to head home as the daylight faded.

"It was believed at that time that the dog was deceased and being held underwater by water pressure," explained Whistler RCMP R. Const. Steve LeClair.

McLeod resumed the search early the next morning with some family and friends. They broke into groups and scoured the area for any sign of what they assumed would be a dead dog.

"I thought, 'I've killed my dog. Fantastic,'" McLeod said.

But a sign of life soon emerged. Peering through binoculars, a friend spotted a splotch of orange fur near the falls.

"She kept calling and Mya poked her head out of a crevice," McLeod said. "She had found a dry landing."

But relief soon turned to dread when an excited Mya saw her rescuers on the other side of the river and jumped back into the water, only to be swept over the falls once more. Fortunately, Mya's rescue team was quick to action, and McLeod's brother, stripped down to his briefs and the rope tied to his waist, lowered himself into the river and scooped up Mya, tired but unharmed.

It's unclear what Mya was up to in the 20 or so hours she was separated from her owners. Police believe she likely stayed warm overnight in some nearby woods, and may have actually gone over the falls three times throughout her ordeal.

"She's just a miracle dog. We call her Miracle Mya now," said McLeod. "I don't know why she survived. I'm forever thankful. I guess it just wasn't her time to go."

A grateful McLeod wanted to extend her thanks to the local police detachment as well as the Sea to Sky NANA Facebook group for their help in retrieving her dog.

For now at least, Mya is staying dry.

"We're going to stay away from the rivers and the waterfalls for a little while," McLeod laughed.

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