CHARLIE the chocolate labrador has never felt so loved.
After surviving a 20-metre fall and spending a night trapped on a ledge in North Nowra, he is back with his grateful family.
The dog was on a work site in North Nowra on Friday with its owner when at the end of the day Charlie was nowhere to be seen.
Charlie’s owner, Jeff Ewers from Woollamia, called out for his dog but when it didn’t come straight away he knew something was wrong.
Normally Charlie, the family dog of seven years, would jump straight in the car.
Mr Ewers also knew there was a cliff close to the house.
He suspected Charlie had run off into the bush chasing something and became lost.
A number of people joined a search that lasted until nightfall.
“We called out all along the cliffs but heard nothing,” Mr Ewers said.
They didn’t know it at the time but Charlie had fallen about 20 metres and landed on a small ledge where he was trapped in a hole between two rocks.
“My son Angus was pretty upset, we all were. It was a pretty sad old night without Charlie,” Mr Ewers said.
The next day the family continued the search.
“Mr Ewers’ son Angus recognised Charlie’s bark in reply to their calls.
“The barking was coming from down the cliff above the Shoalhaven Zoo,” Mr Ewers said.
“We could see Charlie on a ledge and he had fallen 20 to 25 metres.
“If I had fallen off there I think I would be dead.
“He was stuck in a hole surrounded by rock walls on all sides except the open side which was another drop.”
Mr Ewers and Nick Schilko from the Shoalhaven Zoo found their way up to the ledge where Charlie was trapped.
“Nick was a great help. He climbed up and helped me get Charlie.
“We passed him down to each other.
“Charlie was very happy to see us,” Mr Ewers said.
“Once he was home he jumped on his bed and slept for about three hours.”