The Wilcox family was boating on Lake Michigan and traveling from Grand Haven to Frankfort in northwestern Michigan when they saw something reddish brown paddling in the water.
It was a dog! In the middle of the lake, totally alone, and fighting for it’s life. “I see this red animal in the lake and I started screaming ‘Dog in the water!’” Jeannie Wilcox recalled.
The family was almost four miles from shore and knew that if they didn’t help the dog would surely drown. So they sprang into action. The children helped to lift the pup out of the water and onto the family’s boat to care for the dog.
“We brought her up off of our swim platform really easily,” Wilcox said. “She just stood there and we dried her off. She was obviously scared and cold.”
There’s no telling exactly how long the dog was treading water, but Wilcox told a local news station that she believed the dog was fighting for its life for at least an hour. Dry, warm, and out of harm’s way, the Wilcox children comforted the lost pup until the family was able to reach shore and take the dog to a vet clinic.
The dog didn’t simply appear in the lake magically, and it had a collar and tags, so they knew that it had a home and an owner who probably missed it.
Sure enough, the vet was able to scan the dog’s microchip and locate her owners. The dog’ owners met the family at the dock and were excited to be reunited with their pet that they had feared was lost for good.
The dog’s owners said they were on a sailboat with the pooch when it fell in and went missing.
“They were very grateful,” Wilcox said. “It was nice to see the reunion. The Wilcox family said they were happy that they could be in the right place at the right time to make sure that this dog’s tale of danger and adventure didn’t end tragically.
“I just hope that if this was my dog, somebody would do the same for me… I know how rough Lake Michigan can be.”
This isn’t the first time a pup has been rescued from a lake either
The Wilcox’s story of rescuing a dog in distress from the lake might be one of the most recent tales of heroism, but it’s not the first.
In 2019, Bryant Fritz set out on a chilly November day to do some fishing on Kaufman Lake in Champaign, Illinois. Before he had even put his boat in the water, he spotted something he never expected to see.
It was a small dog trapped in a crate with its head barely above the water. If the pup didn’t drown it would surely have frozen to death.
Fritz pulled the crate from the water and removed a few layers of his clothing to warm the puppy up. He noticed pretty quickly that the puppy was missing some fur and had wounds on its body. It was clear that this dog had a rough start in life.
The dog was taken to the University of Illinois Veterinary Teaching Hospital for treatment. “We were unable to get a reading on the thermometer. That’s how low her body temperature had fallen,” Dr. Jenica Haraschak, one of the boarded emergency and critical care specialists who treated the dog said.
Fritz wasn’t sure the dog was going to make it, but as he was filling out the paperwork for the dog he knew that if the pup pulled through its harrowing ordeal, he wanted to adopt it and show it the love it had never known.
Amazingly, the pup did make it through!
Fritz and his girlfriend Krystal decided that a fitting name for the puppy would be Dory, named after the Disney Finding Nemo character. Just like the cartoon fish, this pup “didn’t quit in that water,” Fritz told Rover.
“We see the sickest of the sick dogs,” Meghan Fick, the veterinarian who treated Dory said. “So getting this happy ending, it just allows us all to remember why we do what we do.”Dory’s story made national headlines and even landed Fritz and Krystal on the Ellen show where the school teacher proposed. She said “yes” of course, and today, Dory has a happy home with her canine sibling.
Photos via WOODTV8, Bryant Fitz