The surf was high and pounding against the cliff, so if the dog had jumped or fallen the 50feet she would have been injured or worse landing in the waves below, he said.

Fire crews got the call at 1:47p.m. to help the Sonoma County Sheriff's Department's helicopter unit with the rescue. The parking lot was packed with cars on the unseasonably warm afternoon and it was difficult for the rescue crews to maneuver close to the cliff edge for a rope rescue, Rollings said.

Efforts to coax the dog back up the hill failed, and the decision was made that a deputy suspended beneath Henry 1 would have the best chance of reaching the frightened dog.

"She was scared," Rollings said. "She wasn't going anywhere."

Pilot Paul Bradley flew the chopper low over the cliff a couple times to make sure Oreo wouldn't be spooked by the sight. She was fine. So Bradley landed nearby, and Deputy Henri Boustany strapped himself onto the end of a 100-foot long line.

Boustany wasn't sure how the dog would react when approached by a stranger wearing a flight suit and helmet. Dogs being rescued in such situations have bitten deputies before, he said.

"I didn't want a 60-pound dog digging itself into me," he said.

The pair decided Boustany would bring a towel with him to throw over the dog's face if need be. After he was lifted into place, Boustany started talking to the dog to reassure her, he said. She made it clear she was thrilled to see him.

"The dog and I got to know each other real quick," Boustany said. "I think the dog just wanted to be out of there."

The sheer cliff wasn't large enough for Boustany to stand on, so he leaned against the dog, put one arm through her harness and the other around her legs, and grabbed her in "a kind of bear hug," he said. Then he kicked away from the cliff, and Bradley lifted him up to the cliff's edge, where firefighters grabbed the dog.

The large crowd that had gathered to watch broke into applause. The owner, a woman from San Pablo just up for the day, was immensely relieved, Rolling said.

"She was stoked," he said. "She was a very happy lady."

'You just gotta get out of here:' Read the Mercury News story here


Read all of the PD's fire coverage here