The actor and dog-lover risked his life to rescue his friend's tiny pooch

By Ann Coccagnia
Updated October 07, 2011 08:00 PM

The unthinkable happened when Sex and the City star Jason Lewis was hiking through the Redwood forest with a friend and her dog several years ago: the tiny pooch fell out of his bag and into a dangerous ravine.

“The only dog I’ve legitimately risked my life for was a Chihuahua,” he told PEOPLE at the American Humane Association Hero Dog Awards presented by Cesar Canine Cuisine. “A friend of mine got us lost in the redwoods. Ten hours later [the dog] was exhausted in my backpack and fell out of it, down into the ravine. I plunged after her with a headlamp and managed to survive.” PHOTOS: Carson Kressley’s Dog Is Right at Home on the Range

The hunky actor saved the little dog’s life. “It was pitch black,” he remembered. “We actually beat the search and rescue team dogs by about half an hour.”

The dedicate pet-lover was the proud owner of a Rhodesian Ridgeback named Benga, who sadly passed away recently. “I had her fourteen years this summer,” he said. “She was a gorgeous baby.”

Though he keeps a collar, leash and blanket as momentos of the sweet dog, he isn’t going to try to replace her anytime soon. “I’m exceptionally good to my animals and I’m not in a place to give them the kind of time that they’d need,” he said. “Eventually, when I have a big old ranch I can stick six of them on [it].”

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