Harry Smith, of Port St. Lucie, Florida, has had a black beagle mix named Sarah Jane for seven years. Though he uses an electric wheelchair to get around, he diligently takes Sarah out for two walks a day.
Sarah clearly appreciates the gesture, as many dogs would, but she proved her loyalty in January when Smith, 81, fell out of his wheelchair when they were on a walk and nearly drowned.
As the two were enjoying their walk, Smith’s electric wheelchair suddenly lost traction on the ground cover. The wheelchair tipped, rolling down the embankment and flipping Smith into a pond.
Smith couldn’t swim, his legs were powerless and he barely kept his head above water. Sarah splashed into the water and started barking loudly.
Thankfully there were people nearby who heard the commotion.
Edward Suhling and Aby “Jacob” Chacko were working together on a trailer nearby when they heard the dog barking and thought that, given the area, the dog might’ve encountered an alligator.
“The dog was splashing in the water,” Suhling told Treasure Coast Palm. “So we both ran over here and I jumped in the water, and my buddy grabbed his arms and I grabbed his legs and we got him up on shore.
“Instantly I just jumped in. It’s just a natural reaction … You could just see it in his face. He thought he was dying.”
“As soon as I got here I saw the wheelchair and the dog and I recognized my neighbor Harry so I, you know, got in the water,” Chacko said.
Chacko spotted a policeman on his way over to the scene and got his attention. He recognized Smith as he approached.
“I knew I had to help,” Chacko said. “I was very happy to see the officer going by.”
The Port St. Lucie Police Department posted about the rescue on Facebook, recognizing the help of all three men and the loyal little dog.
“Officer Doty exited his patrol vehicle and observed Mr. Smith was submerged up to his neck in the water,” the post read. “The 2 bystanders and Officer Doty worked together to pull him out of the water and up the bank. Mr. Smith received medical attention on scene and was ok to return home. Due to his electric wheelchair being damaged from falling in the water, Officer Doty and St. Lucie County Fire District assisted by pushing him back to his house.
“We are thankful for Mr. Smith’s dog and the 2 bystanders that helped save his life! And as the saying remains true … A man’s best friend is his dog.”
The good Samaritans and Smith himself have voiced their thanks for Sarah Jane.
“The dog was a real hero,” Suhling acknowledged.
“I love her. Always have, always will,” Smith said. “She’s such a good dog. Everybody in this neighborhood loves her, and they all look out for her.”