A pet dog was left with a sinking feeling after getting in a hole lot of bother while out for a walk with its owner.
Cocker spaniel Luther sparked a rapid emergency response after plunging 45ft down a sink-hole, at Whitburn Nature Reserve.
The plucky pooch was brought to safety thanks to a rope rescue by firefighter teams from South Shields and Hebburn.
Coastguard and lifeboat crews from Sunderland also turned out to come to the aid of the two-year-old dog, after its unfortunate fall at about 4.15pm on Wednesday.
Luther was out for a walk with owner Simon Dodsworth and his other dogs, Oscar and Spencer, and Simon’s brother Nathan, who is visiting from Worthing.
Mr Dodsworth, 45, from Cleadon, said: “Luther was chasing some swallows on the nature reserve when he just disappeared.
My other two dogs made a fuss of him and he had mince and dumplings for tea.Simon Dodsworth
“There was a sink-hole, and when I got to the edge of it I was expecting to see him badly injured. There was some blood from when he must have bit his tongue, but he was okay.
“He was in a panic, as he couldn’t get out, so we made a 999 call to the Coastguard.
“I am always the biggest critic of people calling emergency services when it’s not necessary, so we didn’t take the decision lightly. A firefighter abseiled down and put him in a bag and was lifted back up to the surface.
“The lifeboat was there in case he got out of the hole and ended up in the sea.
“My other two dogs made a fuss of him and he had mince and dumplings for tea.”
Mr Dodsworth, a married dad-of-four with four grandchildren, is full of praise for the emergency response.
“The fire service were very efficient and had Luther out within half an hour.
“They did a great job.”
A spokesman for South Shields fire station said: “We were called out to a dog that had fallen into a sink-hole at 4.27pm.
“The dog wasn’t harmed and was returned safely to his owners at the scene.”