Fishing in the ocean with your dog sounds like an idyllic way to spend a day. However, that was not how it turned out for this fisherman and his canine companion. In fact, when things took a turn for the worse, it seemed like the day had turned into a tragedy. But then everything changed.
Alfonse Attard and his Jack Russell – aptly named Jack – took regular trips out into the ocean, heading out to the waves off Victoria, Australia. One day in early January 2016, the 75-year-old set off on what he thought would be one of their usual fishing trips. However, nothing could have prepared him for the heartrending turn that events would take that day.
Unbeknownst to Attard, the boat had a loose plug in its hull. Attard was fishing in rough waters when, a little over half a mile off Altona beach, the boat began to sink. Before long, the entire boat had capsized and the pair were thrown into the waves. That’s when Attard lost sight of Jack.
As luck would have it, another fishing boat was nearby and came to Attard’s rescue. When Laurie and Trever Borg arrived, they found Attard holding on to the boat for dear life. Unfortunately, there was no sign of Jack the dog. They scooped up Attard and returned him onto dry land. It seemed like things would be hopeless for Jack, though.
Capsizing at sea is a terrifying experience for anyone, but when you’re responsible for another little life, there can be nothing worse. With Attard left waiting for news, the Water Police and volunteers from Altona Life Saving Club returned to the waves to search for the sinking boat and the missing Jack Russell.
Having to accept that his friend of 18 years could be lost forever was tough for Attard. Nearly two hours had passed since the boat had capsized. The situation was not looking good. But on this occasion, luck was on the fisherman’s side.
The volunteers had worked tirelessly to get the boat to shore. Then, when they finally pulled it from the water, they discovered something amazing. And it seemed like a miracle had taken place.
The 75-year-old Attard began literally leaping for joy. With tears in his eyes, he was handed a small and soggy bundle. It was his dog, Jack. Cradling him, Attard wept, clearly exhausted with worry and relief. His little dog was alive.
Jack had managed to keep himself alive in the stricken boat by reaching what must have been an air pocket in the front nose. The dog was able to keep his head up and tread water – and it would be two whole hours before he was rescued.
Attard’s reaction spoke volumes about the affection shared between the two friends. Crying and holding his little dog, his response was simple. Through tears, he told 9 News Perth, “He’ll be alright, he’ll be alright.”
The two had suffered a near miss. “He made me cry. I’ve had him for 18 years and I thought he was finished,” Attard told the Herald Sun. “Where I go, he goes with me.”
The footage of the pair’s reunion touched a chord with viewers and the video soon went viral. Indeed, the world fell in love with this little dog and his loving owner.
One viewer described the duo as being “beautiful,” continuing, “I love a man who has tears for a beloved companion. Bless them.” Many others, meanwhile, had similar feelings about the pair and their touching bond.
Another user commented, “This is so beautiful. I’m all choked up. That little doggy certainly has a very special man in his life.” Attard’s stunned reaction at seeing Jack’s face again, and his subsequent flood of emotions, was something that many viewers could empathize with.
Indeed, everyone was relieved to see the pair reunited. However, some viewers expressed concerns about just how they had gotten into their predicament.
One viewer noted, “Great news. [But] please, sir, wear a vest next time and a doggy vest for your beautiful Jack. Thank God you both survived. Heartfelt wishes to you.” They might have a point.
Another user wrote, “My hope would be that after having experienced such a traumatic event [you] will ensure this gentlemen takes all necessary safety measures in the future. Hindsight is always a valuable teaching aid.”
With the lesson learnt, we’re sure that Attard put appropriate safety measures in place. But the two seemed happy just to be back in each other’s company. And it appeared that the traumatic day hadn’t put them off fishing one bit.
“Maybe I’ll go out tomorrow in another boat,” Attard told the Herald Sun shortly after the rescue. It just goes to show that you can take the fisherman out of the sea, but you can’t take the sea out of the fisherman!
Dogs are known as man’s best friend for a reason – and the special connection shared by Attard and Jack is truly moving to see. Let’s just hope that they don’t have any more accidents in future!