It’s prime dolphin-watching season in St. Pete Beach, Florida. But on July 11, a different kind of mammal appeared in the intercoastal waterway.
Susi Herrington – a sailboat captain at Dolphin Landings Charter Boat Company – was piloting a full charter when she suddenly spotted a dark figure in the water. It was a 12-year-old dog, struggling to keep his head above the surf.
As soon as she realized the Black Lab was in distress, Herrington’s rescue training kicked in.
“I lowered myself down and went into the water, swam over to the dog, got a hold of him by his collar, put my arm under his head and lifted his head out of the water and swam with him to a dock, a low dock,” she told The Bradenton Herald.
The poor pooch was exhausted, but Herrington managed to pull him to safety.
“Somehow I pulled myself up to the dock, and I pulled the dog onto the dock. I don’t know how I did it,” she said. “When I pulled him up, his body just flopped out. All his legs were out underneath him. He eventually got up, shook, and I thought, ‘Well, he’s got to live around here somewhere.’”
It turns out he lives very close indeed! The Black Lab led Herrington to a waterfront home directly next to the dock.
“I knocked on the door, and that’s when I asked the lady, ‘Is this your dog?’ and she was just in tears — literally tears,” Herrington said.
Mary Doherty was shocked to find her 12-year-old dog, Sam, standing in the doorway with a stranger – and even more stunned when she heard the harrowing story of his near-demise.
She had briefly left Sam alone in the backyard to run inside and answer the phone, but had no idea that he was in peril.
Doherty said he often hangs out near the water, but never goes in. She thinks that the aging dog – who suffers from cataracts – may have fallen over the sea wall.
“I couldn’t believe it, because our dog, he won’t even leave the yard,” Doherty said. “He comes into our pool by the beach. He will not jump into the pool, he’s never jumped into the water, so this was pretty shocking for me, and needless to say I was pretty upset about it, crying.”
Doherty shudders to think what may have happened had Herrington not acted so heroically. She has since brought Sam to visit her and thank the boat crew in person. She has also vowed to keep Sam “on a shorter leash.”
“As far as I’m concerned, I’m forever indebted to them,” said Doherty. “I cannot believe that they did that.”
As for Herrington, she says she simply did what any animal lover and experienced sailor would do.
“I was just doing my job,” Herrington said. “Just doing what I’ve been trained to do all these years of working on boats.”
H/T to The Bradenton Herald
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