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'My hiking buddy': Dog's rescue in the Red River Gorge considered a 'miracle'

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Posted at 4:34 PM, Oct 25, 2021
and last updated 2021-10-25 17:23:30-04

(LEX 18) — It started as another day, another hike for Tyler Stinson of Shelbyville and his dog Tyson, a pitbull boxer mix. They spent Sunday afternoon in the Red River Gorge, where Stinson often heads to enjoy the outdoors with his best friend.

“He has been my best friend, my hiking buddy,” Stinson said. “I take him everywhere.”

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But the afternoon turned into a nightmare when Tyson chased a lizard along the top of the Indian Staircase.

“He missed the lizard,” Stinson explained. “He kind of flipped himself backward, tumbled twice, and then I saw him roll off the edge.”

Stinson said he watched as Tyson fell 170 feet off the cliff. He immediately sprung into action, calling 911 and beginning to search for his dog himself. Other hikers joined in to help, with Wolfe County Search and Rescue on the way.

Chief John May told LEX 18 they’re familiar with that area and expected the worst when they arrived.

“In my mind, in the team's mind, we were just going in to assist him in recovering his canine,” May said.

But that didn’t happen. Instead, hours after Tyson tumbled off the cliff, he was found alive with only a few scratches.

“Adrenaline was running through my body, and the only thing I could think about was 'holy crap, he's alive,'” Stinson said. “The minute I saw him, I just folded onto him. That dog is my everything.”

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Stinson said Tyson was off-leash when he fell, which he acknowledges he’ll think twice about doing in the future. He also said a veterinarian checked Tyson out, and he’s totally healthy with no internal damage.

Meanwhile, Stinson is left with a list of people he wants to thank, including search and rescue crews.

“At the time, I didn't even know if that was 911 worthy,” he said. “And the fact they took initiative in that, and came out and helped, they're just really good people.”

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Chief May said that’s just what they do.

“If it was my animal, I would hope someone would come and help,” he said.

Rescue crews said October has been a month of miracles in the Gorge. Earlier this month, Wolfe Co. Search & Rescue also helped rescue a young boy who survived a 70-foot fall.