Tip proves dogs really are man's best friend

By Kristin Edge

As farmer Bill Paikea lay on the floor of a hayshed with a broken back for two hours, his faithful farm dog Tip stayed by his side.

The black Labrador-Huntaway cross knew his master was in trouble and kept licking his face and nuzzling his hand.

Mr Paikea was back home on his farm near Maungataroto yesterday with his canine mate happy to see the boss home.

"All four dogs came rushing over to me but it was Tip that stayed with me the whole time," Mr Paikea said.

An x-ray has confirmed he has a broken vertebrae and two others are fractured.

With his neck now held firmly in place with an extensive brace, the 60-year-old man of the land explained how the drama unfolded.

Mr Paikea had been in a hayshed getting haybales to feed some of the 700 head of stock he runs on a 365 hectare block.

He had rolled two large square hay bales on to the ground and was getting the third when disaster struck.

"I grabbed the string to get good purchase and gave it an almighty tug. The string gave way and snapped." Mr Paikea said

He then tumbled backwards and fell about four metres, landing on his head.

"I heard a crack as I hit the ground. I wriggled my hands and toes and then just wanted to get up and start moving."

He got up but found he wasn't able to move too far. He then lay back on the floor, trying to get in a position where he could reduce the excruciating pain.

His canine companions - Chief, Honey, Jed and Tip - gathered round sensing trouble but Tip, who Mr Paikea has owned since he was a pup, was the one who refused to leave.

After two hours, Mr Paikea began to get cold.

He was unable to use his cellphone to raise the alarm as there was no reception.

Using all his strength and blocking out the pain, he hauled himself aboard his quadbike. That was after putting three dogs in the kennels. Mr Paikea and Tip then rode 3km home.

"I felt every bump in the road."

Arriving home, his wife Ngahuia instantly recognised something was wrong.

"He didn't want us to do anything except help him on to the couch. But with neck injuries, you have to do something immediately, so I rang 111."

A rescue helicopter landed in a nearby farm paddock and airlifted Mr Paikea and his wife to Whangarei Hospital.

He has already considered getting a mobile emergency locator beacon or taking a walkie talkie to use in the spots where there is no cellphone coverage on the farm.

"I encourage people to donate to these services. When you need them, you really appreciate what they do," Mr Paikea said.

Mr Paikea had nothing but praise for the local Maungaturoto fire brigade members, St John staff and the rescue helicopter crew.

- Northern Advocate

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