German Shepherd was Treading Water for 11 Hours Before Rescuers Found Her and Her Owner Stranded at Sea

March 7, 2020 Updated: March 7, 2020

A German shepherd dog was found tiredly treading water amidst floating debris when a local fisherman noticed her. This sighting led authorities to conclude that her owner may have been somewhere in the vicinity and in need of rescue. They began a full-scale search-and-rescue mission. Thankfully, the man was saved and was reunited with his trusted canine.

According to a news release by Queensland Police, it was 6 a.m. on Thursday, Feb. 20, when Heidi the dog was first spotted around a bay in Queensland, Australia. She was immediately retrieved and taken to the Queensland Parks and Wildlife Service, which advised the Brisbane Water Police of her situation.

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Photo courtesy of State of Queensland (Queensland Police Service) 2020

The poor animal had been treading the water for some 11 hours and was discovered along with items such as a fuel tank, tackle box, and wetsuit, which made it clear that the owner might have gone overboard.

Within an hour of finding Heidi, the Brisbane Water Police began searching for her owner. The rescue mission was carried out with the aid of a helicopter, police vessels, a Marine Safety Queensland jet ski, volunteer Marine Coast Guards, and volunteer Marine Rescue. Luckily, at 10:25 a.m., they finally found the man adrift, holding onto his sunken boat near the Morton Bay area.

As it turned out, the 63-year-old had been lost at sea for 15 hours. He told police that his engine had died the previous evening, and the vessel began taking in water. Both man and dog received a medical checkup, and incredibly, both escaped their ordeal without any serious health issues.

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Illustration –¬†Shutterstock | Lisa K Nardi

While Heidi was waiting for the safe return and reunion with her owner, it was senior sergeant Jay Bairstow from the Brisbane Water police who made sure she was well looked after. He even named her “honorary PD for the day.” How heartwarming!

The senior sergeant also wanted to use the story as a reminder for boat owners to ensure they wear life vests and to check their safety equipment regularly. “We would take this opportunity to remind boaties to plan for the worst when they’re out on the water,” he explained in the news release. “Always wear personal flotation device and ensure that your safety equipment, including EPIRBs, are tested and in good order.”

According to Maritime Safety Queensland, the compulsory safety items boat owners must have on board include lifejackets, signaling devices, flares, and an emergency position-indicating radio beacon (EPIRB). Boats in the area should also carry items such as an anchor, paddles, a navigation device, and drinking water.

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Illustration –¬†Shutterstock | Alfonso de Tomas

Facebook users who read the touching story took to the comment section on the Queensland Police Services page to applaud the German shepherd for her bravery and endurance. One commentator said, “Amazing dog must have been exhausted.”

While another noted, “what a beautiful moment, you can see the love between these two and it’s lovely.”

And one person even suggested the dog ought to be given a name suited to her ability to endure. “Should have been called Braveheart what a wonderful effort, and a strong heart and fantastic willpower to survive,” the comment read.