A HUSBAND and wife had to be rescued from a swamp in the unlikely setting of Wareham Forest after an afternoon dog walk took a dramatic turn.

Leah and Ralph Watts were treated by paramedics after spending two hours stuck in freezing mud.

Dorset Fire and Rescue Service rushed to the forest after the worried couple dialled 999, hours after a fruitless search for their dog Daisy ended in them getting stuck.

The police helicopter – fitted with thermal imaging equipment – also joined the search.

Speaking exclusively to the Daily Echo from their Poole home the couple, who have made a full recovery, said: “We would like to say a huge thank you to every one of the emergency services people who helped us.

“They were simply amazing.”

They became stuck while searching for their six-year-old lurcher/collie cross – at one point Leah was trapped almost up to her waist in mud.

Because of the plunging evening temperatures – on what turned out to be the coldest night of the year so far – there was a real risk of Leah developing hypothermia.

Ralph, 58, said: “I was beginning to think at one point that I may have lost my wife as well as the dog. It did get worrying, particularly towards the end.

“It was quite strange hearing myself tell the operator we were stuck in a swamp, but it was very reassuring to hear the helicopter overhead.”

Ralph had been walking the couple’s two dogs on Sunday afternoon when they both ran after a deer.

Jack, their border collie, returned, but Daisy couldn’t make it back.

Ralph called his wife, who joined him with torches to continue the search.

Leah, 56, explained: “We just didn’t realise it would be so boggy. As time went on we started to hear Daisy barking less frequently, and she sounded weak.

“It had also become quite dark.

“When she went quiet, I thought she’d gone, that we’d lost her.”

By now, around 6.30pm, the couple realised their predicament and called emergency services.

A Dorset Fire and Rescue spokesman said: “We would always urge people to call us if they are ever in doubt about their safety.

“This couple did exactly the right thing.”

And while the specialist water rescue team made their way to the stranded husband and wife, Daisy crawled back to Leah.

“It must have been all the sirens that spurred her on,” said Leah.

After a good wash and rest, Daisy is fine.