An Unfamiliar Sight
Looking closer at the small, bright orange object bobbing on the waves through his lens, he jumped back. He thought he could just make out two brown eyes and feared the worst.
That’s when he knew he had to act fast. But what was it? And, more importantly, how had it come to be here, in the middle of the ocean?
Bruce and Robin Knecht from Odessa, Florida were celebrating their joint birthdays with another couple, Michael and Shawn Sahr, as they did every year. For the annual event, they took their boat out into the Gulf of New Mexico to admire the sun and sea.
But what they didn’t expect was that this particular trip would end in tears.
The foursome had traveled a few miles out and was about to begin the birthday festivities in earnest. The sun was about to rise, the champagne was cooling, and it was shaping up to be a spectacular day. The water calmly lapped at the hull and there wasn’t a soul to be seen.
Nothing could ruin this occasion – or so they thought.
After a few hours of watching the sun travel lazily to its highest point, Bruce whipped out his rod and cast his line. Being an experienced fisherman, he expected to reel in something that they could cook for lunch when they returned to the shore.
Little did he know, he wouldn’t be returning with just a fish.
Something In The Background
It wasn’t long before Bruce felt a bite. He expertly reeled the fish in and was pleased to see that it was quite sizable. He rushed to fetch his camera so that he could snap a picture of his catch while his wife, Robin, posed in the background. She smiled, unaware of what was going on behind her.
But Bruce saw it through his lens and did a double-take.
A Closer Look
Bruce zoomed in with his camera to try and get a clearer idea of just what he was looking at, but he would need to investigate further.
He motored straight towards it and then killed the boat’s engine so he could carefully inch closer. The strange object was becoming more visible as the boat silently floated over each swell, but aside for the occasional slap of a wave on the boat’s side, everything was quiet. The sodden object bobbed gently, and Bruce speculated that it was nothing more than a tangle of algae and flotsam that had gotten caught on the mooring. But Shawn wasn’t so sure.
Bruce squinted and he was sure he could make out fine strands of long brown hair being pulled by the ebb and flow of the waves. Then, as they drew nearer, he started to make out limbs… two arms and two legs.
But the object was lying absolutely still. Sean felt the acrid taste of fear well in his throat. Were they too late?
Not A Buoy
Everyone tried to get a better view of the orange object. “We were going about 20 miles an hour… so it was hard to see,” Bruce told ABC News.
The boat was now parallel with the object and the men were silent with anxiety, afraid to voice their concerns. Bruce frowned gravely as they floated closer, and everyone on board prayed the same thing. “Please, let that not be a body,” Bruce whispered. Shawn leaned over as far as he dared. They could see that the object had a weighty, wet mass to it now. And those were definitely limbs.
But as Bruce leaned over to get a closer look, he noticed something that made his blood run cold.
Then, Bruce broke the thick silence with a throaty chuckle of relief. “It’s just a stuffed toy,” he sighed, and both men started to laugh nervously. He didn’t know how very wrong he was. “Let’s go,” he said as he turned to steer the boat in the other direction.
But when he started the engine, the wake rose over the object and its limbs started to flail.
What Was It?
“That’s no stuffed toy,” Bruce said with dismay. Shawn looked closer in horror as the dark shape emerged from the water. It was unlike any sea animal he had ever seen in all his years of sailing in the open ocean. Then, he thought he could just make out its small, brown eyes.
But what was it? The mystery only deepened as they drew closer.
“Wait,” Shawn screamed, “Stop!” Bruce turned to see Shawn’s face frozen in terror, and he immediately killed the engine again with a shudder. He scrambled over to his friend, and they both leaned over and peered intently. The object was motionless again, and they had no idea what they were in for when it started to writhe.
“I saw its arms move,” Shawn stammered. “There, see!” he pointed with a trembling finger. And he was right. Then, they realized what it was.
A Struggling Creature
It wasn’t a buoy or a child. It was a little dog, battling the currents and staying afloat solely because it was wearing a life jacket. If he hadn’t been wearing the bright life preserver, they may never have spotted him.
But what was a dog doing so far away from the shore in the first place?
Bruce and his party couldn’t understand how or why the little dog had come to be miles out in the open ocean. But one thing they were sure of was that it was very happy to see them!
Recognizing his saviors, he paddled furiously toward the boat until he was close enough to be hauled on board.
“As soon as he saw the bow of the boat come around, he started paddling as fast as he could towards us,” recalled Michael. It was Michael who had leaned over and scooped the little dog from the water.
After removing his life jacket and giving the little Jack Russell a look-over, they were greeted with a welcome sight.
The Jack Russell seemed to be recovering well from his sea adventure. Shawn inspected him thoroughly until she was satisfied that he’d sustained no injuries. But the question remained: where had he come from? He had no identification on him, so how would they contact his owners?
That’s when Shawn had an idea.
Coastguard To The Rescue
She radioed the coastguard, and he had some good news. “[The coastguard] said that earlier that morning they’d had a report of a dog overboard,” Shawn explained. “They asked us to please identify the dog,” Robin added.
They gave their description to the coastguard, and it was indeed the same dog – and he’d been missing for three hours!
The coastguard took note of the boat’s coordinates so that they could dispatch a rescue team. Bruce and his crew were more than happy to take care of the little pup while they waited.
The dog’s name was Jägermeister, and he was, understandably, a little nervous after having spent the last three hours at sea.
Cold And Shaking
“He was shaking like a leaf,” Robin later explained in an interview with the New York Daily News. They knew they had to get him warmed up as fast as possible. “We got towels wrapped around him and got him calmed down – it took about 30 minutes,” Robin recalled.
But how did Jägermeister take to the strangers who had saved his life?
Fortunately, Jägermeister didn’t mind at all. He seemed to understand that he was now in safe hands. “He was very friendly [and] very sweet,” Robin said.
What’s more, Jägermeister actually seemed to enjoy spending time on the boat with his new friends and wasted no time claiming a prime spot..
“After he got calmed down, he hopped up on the top deck of our boat and sunbathed,” Robin said, laughing. And when the coastguard finally arrived, he quickly leaped aboard the rescue vessel and made himself comfortable.
But how had little Jägermeister ended up fending for himself in the ocean? And where were his owners?
On An Adventure
Joey Myrick had all the answers. Joey and Jägermeister were on a boat trip when Joey stopped to check the hull. While he was out of view, Jägermeister decided to leap overboard to go off on an adventure of his own.
When Joey had discovered that his beloved dog was missing, he was worried sick.
Joey was waiting on the shore when the coastguard, with Jägermeister’s new friends in tow, reunited the pair. When asked how she felt at the time of the reunion, Robin said: “Wonderful. It was heart-warming and heart-breaking at the same time. We all got tears in our eyes… he ran up and the dog started licking his face,” Robin continued.
“We were all crying. It was really a very, very heart-warming moment. It was very happy!”
Some humans are brave enough to risk their own lives to save another. Our next fisherman expected a relaxing day on the water, yet it turned out to be anything but.
A Day Gone Awry
Some fishermen crave the excitement that fills them after they cast their line in the hopes of reeling a delicious fish into their boat. Others seek peace and serenity in escaping the real world hustle and bustle for a calm day away. Brad’s day started as such, and the water beneath him was quiet and peaceful. He wanted nothing more than to enjoy the time he had by himself and his fishing line. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see a large brown shape floating towards him. Brad didn’t think much of it as it looked like a mere branch.
As soon as the mysterious silhouette inched closer to him, he finally could see – this was no branch at all. Shivers immediately went up and down his spine, he had to get out of there, and quickly.
The Beautiful Lake
It was a brisk May morning when fisherman Brad Meck left his home in Pennsylvania and headed to Raystown Lake to spend the day absorbing the sun and silence that fishing so often brings. After a tough and stressful week, Brad felt he needed this getaway.
However little to Brad’s knowledge, by the end of the day, he wouldn’t know how to put the events into perspective.
A Small Town
Brad was from the small town of Everett, Pennsylvania. The town has a vast history and is known for its incredible surroundings. Mountains pile up around you as it is located in a valley of the Allegheny Mountains, giving this small town an astonishing presence. Everett is also home to an extensive lake beautifully surrounded by trees and wildlife. It was not unusual to see people spend their times on boats in the lake. He began to contemplate the idea of spending the day out on the water. Brad could never have expected his day to unfold as it would.
Brad was from the small town of Everett, Pennsylvania. The town has a vast history and is known for its incredible surroundings. Mountains pile up around you as it is located in a valley of the Allegheny Mountains, giving this small town an astonishing presence. Everett is also home to an extensive lake beautifully surrounded by trees and wildlife. It was not unusual to see people spend their time on boats in the lake.
He began to contemplate the idea of spending the day out on the water. Brad could never have expected his day to unfold as it would.
Started As A Relaxing Day
Brad gathered his fishing gear and his lunch and headed out. Once he settled into the boat and got comfortable with the sun on his back, he cast his first line. After Brad rested his feet, he noticed near him was a long log floating in the water.
All of a sudden, Brad started to get restless when he took off his sunglasses and realized this log was moving towards him… and quickly.
He reached for his paddle and looked around the lake to see what danger was headed his way. It couldn’t be a log, could it? The lake was calm; there could be no way the log was being pulled so quickly by the current. There was no current! Brad became nervous and kept his eye on this mystery that lurched his way.
But little by little, the thrashing water became closer and closer to his boat. Something in Brad’s subconscious put his whole body on alert. But why?
A Mistaken Log
Brad was initially quite startled, as he was alone and very unsure of what exactly was heading for him. All of a sudden, he spotted some fur on the log, quite a lot of hair, in fact. Brad convinced himself it was a rodent. He thought it could possibly be a beaver.
Relieved to be out of imminent danger, his body began to relax. Little did he know, he should have never trusted his instincts out on the water that day.
An Animal Approaching
Brad suddenly became aware that this was no log at all. As he was startled, he brought himself to his feet, but doing so caused the boat to rock. Brad eventually caught his balance and peered closely. As he did, the boat began to shake uncontrollably and he knew he was doomed. But before disaster struck, he held onto the boat and on his knees crouched down, successfully securing the boat.
Suddenly, a cold sweat started forming all over his body. This day was not going at all as planned, and to make matters worse, the animal was approaching Brad even faster than it had been before. What did it want? And was he sure it was a beaver?
A Mistaken Animal
Both Brad and the creature paddled within an eye’s view of one another, which is when Brad realized that it was a baby animal that was barely afloat. The animal had detached itself from the log it was initially gripping. It was clearly struggling to keep its snout above the water. He knew he had to do something to help.
This poor little beaver must have been incredibly tired from all the paddling. Brad then dove for the creature — but forgot to check one painful fact.
Saviour Of The Day
Not only had Brad become aware that this creature was no log at all, but it was alive. And he knew this guy needed help. But still, the animal was too far away for Brad to help him. Eagerly, he decided he was going to paddle that way. He didn’t want anything to suffer while he was around, and more so when he could do something to help.
As he got within arms reach of the creature, he stretched his arm as far as it could go and grabbed onto the animal. Little did he know, this was no log or beaver. What had he just grabbed?
An Unhealthy Cub
Once Brad had a firm grip on the creature, he pulled it out of the water and placed it at the base of the boat. He recognized with a hint of fear that it was a baby cub. The little guy looked small and weak, just a newborn. He was struggling immensely to breathe due to all the water he had consumed.
The cub couldn’t catch a breath and began to choke, Brad had to think quick on his feet. He needed to save this poor little animal, but how?
Struggling To Swim
Then Brad came back to his senses, and became frantic, now worrying that the cub would bite him — or worse… that the mother was near. The little guy sneezed and released excess water as Brad scoped the shore in search of the dangerous mother bear.
Brad was certain she would be at least 10 times the cub’s size, and his instincts this time were not at all wrong.
Holding On For Life
Brad reached in his backpack beside the little cub to call for help. He recognized that being completely alone with a bear at his side was a threatening position. As he checked his backpack pockets, he considered whether the wildlife rescue crew or the police would arrive faster.
In the end, neither would get the job done because he looked at his phone and had no service. There was only one option left for Brad, and he wasn’t too happy about it.
Suddenly, a plan came into Brad’s head, and as he had no other options, he acted on it. Brad paddled towards the shoreline that the cub had been heading towards before seeking refuge in Brad’s boat. He reasoned that if this was the cub’s initial path, the mother must be near.
Once ashore, Brad again got a grip on the small animal. However, when Brad looked up, he felt cornered and noticed something in the distance.
A Bear’s Home
The trees had cast large shadows on the forest floor and the bushes whistled with the intensifying winds. Brad continued to mistake these images and noises as the mother bear. In a quick moment, Brad bravely reached again for the cub so he could place him on the ground.
However, when Brad reached for the cub, it responded unexpectedly.
Cub Left To Fend For Himself
The creature stayed motionless and very calm. Brad felt the cub was unable to hurt a fly. He no longer worried that the cub would bite him, but he now worried what the cub would do if he couldn’t reunite with his mother.
Brad noticed the cub was gaining strength as they reached the shore, so he knew what it was time to do.
A Heartfelt Goodbye
Brad grabbed him and let him wander back into his natural habitat, but sadly, not at his mother’s side. Brad pulled out his phone, but this time to videotape the cub’s departure.
The tiny creature crept back into the woods, but before getting too far, it looked back at Brad – almost thanking him for rescuing his little life.
Once the cub disappeared into the woods, Brad returned to his boat. Along the way back to his truck, Brad reflected on the risk he took saving the baby bear. He also pondered what would have happened had he not taken this day off to go fishing.
Brad spoke to the news and rescue committee the following day in the hopes that there would be news on the whereabouts of his furry friend.
Lost And Scared
Then, there were reports that a bear cub and its mother had been spotted by hikers in the area. Brad knew in his heart that it was the little cub he had saved, finally reunited with its mother. But Brad was lucky.
Had the mom seen Brad with her cub, it is likely that he would have been viciously attacked. The presence of a bear is dangerous, but this danger intensifies when a human comes near a mother’s cubs.
A Bear Reunited With Its Habitat
Rescue committees and experts urge humans in situations like Brad’s not to touch animals in the wild. Normally in the wild, one shouldn’t assume the animal is alone. However, in this case, because the cub was drowning and at risk of dying, Brad did a wonderful deed.
He indeed saved the animal’s life.
Brad surely did not experience the tranquil day he had expected. However, he is thankful he was there to get the little cub out of danger. Next time, Brad might consider bringing a fishing companion to help him when he gets in harm’s way.
Though the experience was thrilling, we can assume Brad does not wish for a next time. The little baby cub may have been the only catch Brad had that day. If you have any questions about what to do when you come across wildlife, The Pennsylvania Game Commission recommends you contact local authorities.