A COW called Dopey was rescued from a peat bog during a dramatic five-hour operation involving more than a dozen Lochaber firefighters and local crofters.
The 12-year-old shorthorn had fallen into the soggy, muddy hole on a croft near Arisaig and had sunk in the bog up to her sides.
It is believed the unfortunate animal had been trapped in the mud for several hours before being discovered just before 12.30pm on Wednesday.
Highlands and Islands Fire and Rescue crews from Mallaig and Acharacle as well as the brigade’s Lochaber group manager, Pat McElhinney. were called to the scene and found the cow shattered by her own struggles to free herself from her perilous predicament.
Mr McElhinney said: “The bog itself creates a vacuum and the animal becomes fatigued the more it struggles and the deeper it sinks.”
Using a technique he had deployed before as a member of Merseyside Fire Service, Mr McElhinney instructed the fire crews to place a high pressure jet of water into the bog and under the cow, easing the pressure on the animal and breaking the vacuum of the peat.
The team’s tactic was successful and enabled the stricken beast to start moving.
The fire crews and crofters on scene then worked for several hours to slowly manoeuvre the cow out of the bog.
Mr McElhinney said: “We had to keep taking breaks to allow the animal a physical recovery, as she was really tired and struggled to move at times.
“I am very proud of the effort of all my crews in helping this animal out.
“The crofters were extremely helpful, too, and gave us important guidance on the importance of keeping the beast upright.
“What was also interesting was that the crofters were speaking in Gaelic to the cow throughout!
“We even brought the cow’s calf near her, to help encourage her fight for life, and we were overjoyed when she finally broke free of the peat and walked away to her offspring.”
The fire boss added: “It was about 5.30pm when the operation ended.
“All the crofters were delighted and there were lots of hugs for the crew afterwards.
“It was great that the situation ended happily.”