Family’s agony after beloved puppy drowns on John Muir Walkway

A family has been left heartbroken after its beloved pet drowned on a popular part of the John Muir Walkway.

Milton of Campsie man Allan MacDonald, wife Katy and children Zoe, 12 and Layla, 8 want to warn others of the hidden danger on the route between Strathblane and Lennoxtown which took the life of their beautiful 10-month-old Golden Spaniel pup Penny.

Worst still, Allan is concerned a toddler could suffer the same fate as Penny.

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Allan told the Kirkintilloch Herald: “It was one of the worst experiences of my life. We were just walking on this part of the path and we have been there with Penny so many times before.

“Because of heavy rainfall previous days there was a puddle at the side. What I didn’t know was that there was a huge hole underneath it.

“As a spaniel, Penny loves the water and she plopped right on in to it. But then I saw her start to doggy-paddle. It just all happened so fast. It was like a plug-hole – she just got sucked right under the water. It was horrific.”

Allan jumped in to try to pull Penny out – but she had been swept into a culvert used to drain water from a field and he could not reach or see her. The water was also almost up to his waist.

Heartbroken Allan said: “I jumped in and I couldn’t see or feel her. I was right in the hole.

Allan with the family's beloved golden spaniel Penny.

“So I ran to the other side of the path but she wasn’t coming out the other side. She was stuck underneath.”

It was 40 minutes before the little dog surfaced and by that time, it was too late.

Allan said: “I'm concerned not only will this happen again to a poor dog like my own but also if a child falls into this inlet of water from the field to the walkway this could lead to a tragic incident similar to the death of Penny. She was just such a good dog, We are all devastated.”

When Penny disappeared, the family frantically called the fire service for help.

The 'puddle' was directly across from this bench on the walkway.

Allan said: “Unfortunately because we were in the middle of the walkway they could not get to us on time. I met them at the very end of the ordeal. They were great. They performed CPR on Penny but she was already gone.”

A Scottish Fire and Rescue Service spokesperson said: "We were alerted at 1.43pm on Friday, March 12, to reports of a dog in water, near Haughhead, Lennoxtown.

“Operations Control immediately mobilised two appliances and two specialist water rescue units.

“The crews treated the dog at the scene but sadly were unable to save it. Our thoughts are with the owners."

The Kirkintilloch Herald contacted both East Dunbartonshire Council and the Scottish Green Action Trust, who promote the John Muir Way as a key tourism asset, to inform them of the tragic incident and the danger still posed with the open culvert, particularly after heavy rainfall.

A spokesperson for the Trust said: “This is a terrible and horrible incident and our sympathies are with the family and poor dog."

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