London - A nudge from an angry ewe is all in a day’s work for a sheepdog.
But when the farm in question sits atop a 600ft headland, even a small push could be fatal.
Farmer Dan Jones feared the worst when his trusty collie Tian was barged off a cliff after an encounter with a ewe on Tuesday.
To his relief, he peered over and saw the two-year-old dog paddling in the water below – but soon realised Tian had no way of clambering back up to him.
Unable to scramble down himself, Mr Jones ordered his dog to lie down on the rocks and went for help.
On Thursday, he told how he had been gathering the flock on the headland near Llandudno in North Wales with the help of volunteers when the ewe charged at the dog. ‘I was gathering the sheep for shearing and I knew it would be a bit tricky as they were in a difficult place,’ he said. ‘There was one sheep that was a bit stubborn and she wouldn’t move, so I got Tian to go round and try to help move her.
‘I’m not sure if she was trying to protect her lamb but she just charged straight at Tian and barged him off the cliff.’
Mr Jones described how Tian, falling from a point approximately 60ft above the water, hit rocks on the way down and bounced into the Irish Sea.
‘I panicked at first as I’d never seen him swim before,’ he said.
The dog resurfaced unscathed, but struggled to make his way back onto dry land. ‘He started coming back to shore, but he couldn’t get out so he started treading water. I called him to an area where he managed to get himself out. I was hoping he’d be able to scramble up but he got a bit scared and started barking, so I told him to lie down.’
Mr Jones attempted to rescue Tian himself but had to call for help. Fortunately, a friend, climber Roger Piece, was able to hoist the dog back up to safety. The farmer said Tian is ‘absolutely fine’ after ordeal, adding: ‘His swim was definitely better than his dive.’
Mr Jones took over the picturesque 145-acre farm last October for a rent of just £1 a year after a worldwide search by National Trust Wales for a tenant.
He moved to Great Orme along with wife Ceri, 39, and son Efan, eight, and their five herding dogs – Tian, Nel, Bet, Moss and Floss.