TERREBONNE, Ore. - (Update: Adding video; Redmond man reached dog's remains; comments from him, couple)
A couple who lost everything but their beloved dog, CJ., to the fire that destroyed much of Paradise, Calif., lost their dog as well on Sunday when she jumped into the Crooked River canyon north of Terrebonne.
But CJ's remains were recovered Monday, thanks largely to a Redmond man they'd never met who read online about what happened, went to the scene and descended into the 300-foot canyon to help
Jim and Robin Ellison came to Central Oregon to visit their son, who lives in Madras, for the Father's Day weekend.
On Sunday, they were at Peter Skene Ogden State Scenic Viewpoint on U.S. Highway 97, a popular stopping point by the bridge over the Crooked River canyon, when the unthinkable happened.
Their 50-pound mixed-breed dog slipped out of her harness when she became excited to see Robin a little way down the trail.
CJ, at 4 years of age, had served as the Ellison's emotional support dog.
They were among the thousands of people who lost their homes when the Camp Fire devastated much of Paradise, California, last November.
They lived there for 20 years before they lost everything but themselves -- and CJ.
"There wasn't anything at all that we saved, except our CJ," Jim Ellison said Monday. "She was like our rock through all this. It was like she knew we needed her more than anything."
On Sunday, the couple said their dog was at the park's restrooms with Jim when she pulled herself out of her harness, running to Robin and her son Jim at the low rock wall -- and with no hestitation, jumped over it. They said Robin looked over and saw their dog passed out on a ledge, then slip off it.
They immediately started making calls to get help to find their dog.
An Oregon Humane Society search and rescue crew out of Portland that specializes in animal cliff rescues was on scene Monday and lowered one member down the 300-foot canyon by rope to help look for and recover the dog.
At first, what was believed to possibly be the dog was debris instead, and the wall was crumbling, so the crew was pulled up a short time later.
But Redmond resident Brent Chapman, 26, who saw KTVZ.COM's article about the recovery effort, headed to the scene and used a trail on the other side of the bridge to make his way down to the river, swim across it and located the dog's remains.
The Ellisons' son, Jim, helped with the dog's recovery Monday evening, after more rope and a bag to transport the dog was obtained.
Chapman said he did much the same in a recovery after another dog met the same fate at the location about two years ago.
"I checked the news (today), like I always do, and noticed there was a post about a dog that had gone missing over here yesterday," Chapman said.
"(I) noticed that the people had lost their house in Paradise, which hit home to me, because I have a family that had property over in Paradise. And I just can't bare to not see someone get their dog and be able to put them at rest."
After the recovery, the couple said their dog would be cremated in Bend Wednesday night. They plan a small memorial visit to the viewpoint on Tuesday before they head home.
Sadly, the loss of dogs like CJ is not an uncommon occurrence at the state viewpoint. There are signs posted, warning visiting pet owners of the danger and to be cautious and watch out for their animals.