It’s cold out, but your dog still wants to get out for a walk. Some dogs relish the snow, and don’t mind getting cold feet so long as they can experience a mini adventure — but sometimes they get more than they bargained for.
Dogs don’t always realize that frozen ponds and lakes aren’t solid. They don’t know that some areas of the ice are so thin they could easily fall through. And every winter, despite the warnings to owners, dogs still end up breaking through the ice and risking their lives and the lives of those who try to save them.
A dog named Sadie in Bozeman, Montana, joined that group in December 2018 when she found herself trapped in the icy water of a nearby pond at twilight. An older gentleman had commandeered a rowboat and was trying to reach the dog, but the going was slow.
Cue UPS driver Ryan Arens, who heard a strange racket as he stopped to deliver a package nearby, but he couldn’t see anything. He said that the “dog was screaming and crying and going crazy.”
A dog lover, the noise got to him and he drove around the pond for a better look. That’s when he saw the poor pup and the man in the boat, and knew he’d have to help.
“I could see the dog trapped about 10-15 feet off of shore, with ice all around it,” Arens said, according to the Great Falls Tribune. “I stripped to my boxers and got the guy out of the boat.”
“Then I slid the boat out onto the ice, using it to distribute my weight. I shimmed out to where the ice was thin.”
Sadie didn’t look like she could hold on much longer. She was losing her grip as the frigid water closed its grasp on her.
“She was starting to go under,” Arens confirmed. But then Arens broke through the ice and fell into the water as well, putting his own life in jeopardy.
“I knew someone had to get to her,” he later explained. “She wasn’t going to make it.”
With little thought for himself and fueled by the dog’s distress, Arens did the opposite of what most authorities recommend and swam toward the dog. He managed to grab her, and then got them both to the edge of the 16-foot-deep pond.
“We took the dog inside the older guy’s house and got in the shower together to warm up,” Arens said. The pup was incredibly grateful, and Arens is convinced she wouldn’t have made it if she’d had to wait for the animal control and sheriff’s department to arrive, since they got there after Arens had already saved her.
After drying off, Arens set out to complete the rest of his deliveries and did not encounter any more life-risking or -saving opportunities.
He later reunited with Sadie after delivering a package to her owner, and she definitely seemed to recognize her hero.
“She was freaking out, and when he let her out she ran to me. She must have remembered me. It sure made me feel good.”
“This dog had a whole lot of life left in her, and I’m really glad I was able to act when I did. She’s a sweetheart.”
“Animals are my weakness,” Arens said. “It was the highlight of my 14-year UPS career.”
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