It had been a lovely day out on the ocean waves. But as the celebrations on deck continued, one member of the party spotted something in the water. Soon, the boater realized that what he first took for a flotation device was actually a living creature – and it needed their help. So without a moment’s hesitation, the group turned the boat around and headed towards the critter.
In May 2016 the media highlighted a story about two couples out at sea. Bruce and Robin Knecht were sharing a joint celebration with their two friends, Michael and Shawn Sahr, with the festivities taking place on a boat in the Gulf of Mexico.
The trip actually wasn’t just a one-time event; in fact, it was part of a yearly tradition. Yes, the four Odessa, Florida, inhabitants met up each year to celebrate their combined birthdays by taking a boat a few miles out to sea. And it was while they were out on the waves that they encountered an unexpected party-crasher.
It was Bruce who saw the distant object first, although he didn’t realize what it was at first. “I thought it was a floating buoy,” he subsequently told ABC News. “We were going about 20 miles an hour… so it was hard to see.”
The boaters were surprised to see that on closer inspection, the bright orange object was in fact moving. It was clearly alive, but whatever it was appeared to be struggling. “I saw two brown eyes,” Bruce recalled. “I almost thought it was a child.”
“I turned the boat around instantly and headed towards [it],” he added. It was at this point that the party realized what it was they were looking at. The mystery item wasn’t a buoy – or a boy, for that matter – but rather it was a little Jack Russell Terrier dog in a pet’s life preserver.
The boaters had no idea where the animal had come from or indeed how it had traveled there. They were sure, though, that it was pleased to see them. The small dog couldn’t wait to get to the approaching boat, in fact, and headed straight towards the party.
“As soon as he saw the bow of the boat come around, he started paddling as fast as he could towards us,” recalled Michael, who had subsequently plucked the Jack Russell from the water. And upon examining the dog, the party received a welcome surprise.
Health-wise, their new companion seemed no worse for his experience at sea. Yet that still left one big question: where had he come from? Well, Shawn soon discovered the answer to that when she made radio contact with the coastguard. And that wasn’t all she found out.
“[The coastguard] said that earlier that morning they’d had a report of a dog overboard,” she explained. The dog – whose name would later be revealed as Jägermeister – had been missing for three hours. “They asked us to please identify the dog,” Robin added.
The party described Jägermeister, and the coastguard consequently made a note of the boat’s location to send out a rescue vessel. The boaters, meanwhile, were happy to look after Jägermeister. Naturally, the pooch was a little shaken up from his experience, but now he was in good hands.
“He was shaking like a leaf,” Robin later told the New York Daily News. As a result, the party made warming up Jägermeister a priority. “We got towels wrapped around him and got him calmed down – it took about 30 minutes,” Robin added.
Despite what must have been a traumatic experience, though, Jägermeister’s cheery personality was unaffected. “He was very friendly [and] very sweet,” Robin recalled. What’s more, the little dog appeared to have an affinity for the water and seemed to enjoy being on the boat.
“After he got calmed down, he hopped up on the top deck of our boat and sunbathed,” Robin continued. Jägermeister’s fondness for the sea was further confirmed when the coastguard arrived later. Yes, the dog wasted no time leaping on board the rescue boat and getting into position to watch the waves.
But how did Jägermeister end up in the ocean away all on his own? Well, the dog had been on a boat trip when one of his owners, Joey Myrick, had stopped their boat to check something inside the hull.
Although he’d only been gone for a few minutes, it was still long enough for Jägermeister to jump overboard, and Myrick had been worried sick ever since. He later explained that Jägermeister usually swims to a nearby island when the boat stops as part of his regular routine. So the motionless boat probably confused the Jack Russell.
Thanks to the rescue efforts of the Knechts and the Sahrs, however, Myrick was soon reunited with his beloved dog. Moreover, his rescuers were able to witness their reunion first-hand. Robin subsequently described the moment as “Wonderful. It was heart-warming and heart-breaking at the same time. We all got tears in our eyes.” And little Jägermeister was overjoyed to see his owner again, too.
“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!” ABC News added that both Myrick and Jägermeister’s other owner – who was unnamed – were ecstatic with the rescue.
Myrick described Jägermeister as being “like a child” to him, the report continued. “That was his baby,” Michael confirmed to the New York Daily News. “That was probably his life, was that dog, so it was a blessing we could be a part of that.”
But it wasn’t just the boaters who saved Jägermeister; Myrick also attributes the dog’s survival to his life preserver. “If you love someone, whether they’re a dog or a person, put a life preserver on them,” Myrick advised. It saved Jägermeister’s life – and it could do the same for you.