He jerked back when he took a closer look through his lens at the little, brilliant orange item that was bouncing on the waves. He dreaded the worst since he believed he could just make out two brown eyes.
He then realized he needed to move quickly. However, what was it? And maybe more significantly, how had it ended there in the middle of the ocean?
It was the annual tradition for Bruce and Robin Knecht of Odessa, Florida, to share their birthdays with Michael and Shawn Sahr.
They launched their boat into the Gulf of New Mexico for the yearly occasion so they could enjoy the sea and sun. They did not, however, anticipate that this particular excursion would end in tears.
Didn't Expect It
After traveling a few kilometers, the quartet was set to start the party in earnest. It was going to be a fantastic day since the sun was about to rise and the champagne was chilling.
There was nobody in sight as the waves gently lapped over the hull. Nothing could sour the mood, they reasoned.
A Fishing Trip
Bruce pulled out his rod and threw his line after seeing the sun slowly rise for a few hours. He knew how to fish and hoped to catch something.
He would then be able to cook lunch when they got back to the coast. He had no idea that he wouldn't be coming back with simply a fish.
He Saw Something
Bruce didn't have to wait long to feel a bite. He skillfully pulled in the fish and was gratified to discover that it was enormous. He hurried to get his camera to take a picture of his capture as Robin, his wife, stood behind him.
She grinned, oblivious to what was happening behind her. Bruce, though, took a second look after seeing it through his lens.
Looking More Closely
Bruce used his camera's zoom to attempt to gain a better understanding of what he was seeing, but he would need to dig into it more. He directed the boat's motor for it, then shut it off so he could slowly draw nearer.
The odd item was moving closer to the boat every second. Bruce assumed it was just some debris, but Shawn disagreed.
When Bruce squinted, he thought he could see little brown hair strands dragged by the waves ebb and flow. He could then start to make out limbs as they got closer—two arms and two legs.
However, the thing was still as it lay. Sean could taste the bitter tang of terror in his throat. They arrived too late.
It Was No Buoy
Each person tried to obtain a better look at the orange item. Bruce told ABC News, "We were traveling around 20 miles per hour... so it was hard to see."
The men were silent and fearful of expressing their worries as the boat drew parallel to the item. As they floated closer, Bruce scowled severely. The men hoped and prayed that it wasn't anything sinister, but they were limbs. They weren't ready for what they were about to encounter.
A Sigh Of Relief
Then, Bruce broke the thick silence with a throaty chuckle of relief. "It's just a stuffed toy," he sighed, and both men started to laugh nervously. He didn't know how very wrong he was.
"Let's go," he said as he turned to steer the boat in the other direction. But when he started the engine, the wake rose over the object, and its limbs started to flail.
Not A Stuffed Toy
That's not a stuffed animal, Bruce said in shock. The black thing emerged from the water as Shawn cringed and peered closer. In all the years he had spent sailing in the wide ocean, he had never seen anything like it.
He then believed he could just about make out its tiny, brown eyes. However, what was it? As they got closer, the mystery just grew more enigmatic.
Turning The Engine Off
Shawn said, "Wait! Stop! Bruce shuddered the engine off once again as he looked around to find Shawn's face petrified with fear. He rushed up to his companion, and the two of them leaned in close and exchanged piercing looks.
Once more, the item seemed stationary, and they were unsure of what to expect until it began to move.
Something Struggling In The Water
It wasn’t a buoy or a child. It was a little dog, battling the currents and staying afloat solely because it was wearing a life jacket.
If he hadn’t been wearing the bright life preserver, they may never have spotted him. But what was a dog doing so far away from the shore in the first place?
Bruce and his party couldn’t understand how or why the little dog had come to be miles out in the open ocean. But one thing they were sure of was that it was very happy to see them!
Recognizing his saviors, he paddled furiously toward the boat until he was close enough to be hauled on board.
“As soon as he saw the bow of the boat come around, he started paddling as fast as he could towards us,” recalled Michael. It was Michael who had leaned over and scooped the little dog from the water.
After removing his life jacket and giving the little Jack Russell a look-over, they were greeted with a welcome sight.
The Jack Russell seemed to be recovering well from his sea adventure. Shawn inspected him thoroughly until she was satisfied that he’d sustained no injuries. But the question remained: where had he come from?
He had no identification on him, so how would they contact his owners? That’s when Shawn had an idea.
Coastguard To The Rescue
She radioed the coastguard, and he had some good news. “[The coastguard] said that earlier that morning they’d had a report of a dog overboard,” Shawn explained. “They asked us to please identify the dog,” Robin added.
They gave their description to the coastguard, and it was indeed the same dog – and he’d been missing for three hours!
The coastguard took note of the boat’s coordinates so that they could dispatch a rescue team. Bruce and his crew were more than happy to take care of the little pup while they waited.
The dog’s name was Jägermeister, and he was, understandably, a little nervous after having spent the last three hours at sea.
Cold And Shaking
“He was shaking like a leaf,” Robin later explained in an interview with the New York Daily News. They knew they had to get him warmed up as fast as possible. “We got towels wrapped around him and got him calmed down – it took about 30 minutes,” Robin recalled.
But how did Jägermeister take to the strangers who had saved his life?
Fortunately, Jägermeister didn’t mind at all. He seemed to understand that he was now in safe hands. “He was very friendly [and] very sweet,” Robin said.
What’s more, Jägermeister actually seemed to enjoy spending time on the boat with his new friends and wasted no time claiming a prime spot..
“After he got calmed down, he hopped up on the top deck of our boat and sunbathed,” Robin said, laughing. And when the coastguard finally arrived, he quickly leaped aboard the rescue vessel and made himself comfortable.
But how had little Jägermeister ended up fending for himself in the ocean? And where were his owners?
Joey Myrick had all the answers. Joey and Jägermeister were on a boat trip when Joey stopped to check the hull. While he was out of view, Jägermeister decided to leap overboard to go off on an adventure of his own.
When Joey had discovered that his beloved dog was missing, he was worried sick.
Joey was waiting on the shore when the coastguard, with Jägermeister’s new friends in tow, reunited the pair. When asked how she felt at the time of the reunion, Robin said: “Wonderful. It was heart-warming and heart-breaking at the same time. We all got tears in our eyes… 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!” Some humans are brave enough to risk their own lives to save another. Our next fisherman expected a relaxing day on the water, yet it turned out to be anything but.
Some fishermen crave the excitement that fills them after they cast their line in the hopes of reeling a delicious fish into their boat. Others seek peace and serenity in escaping the real world hustle and bustle for a calm day away. Brad’s day started as such, and the water beneath him was quiet and peaceful. He wanted nothing more than to enjoy the time he had by himself and his fishing line. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see a large brown shape floating towards him. Brad didn’t think much of it as it looked like a mere branch.
As soon as the mysterious silhouette inched closer to him, he finally could see – this was no branch at all. Shivers immediately went up and down his spine, he had to get out of there, and quickly.
It was a brisk May morning when fisherman Brad Meck left his home in Pennsylvania and headed to Raystown Lake to spend the day absorbing the sun and silence that fishing so often brings. After a tough and stressful week, Brad felt he needed this getaway.
However little to Brad’s knowledge, by the end of the day, he wouldn’t know how to put the events into perspective.
A Small Town
Brad was from the small town of Everett, Pennsylvania. The town has a vast history and is known for its incredible surroundings. Mountains pile up around you as it is located in a valley of the Allegheny Mountains, giving this small town an astonishing presence. Everett is also home to an extensive lake beautifully surrounded by trees and wildlife. It was not unusual to see people spend their time on boats in the lake.
He began to contemplate the idea of spending the day out on the water. Brad could never have expected his day to unfold as it would.
Started As A Relaxing Day
Brad gathered his fishing gear and his lunch and headed out. Once he settled into the boat and got comfortable with the sun on his back, he cast his first line. After Brad rested his feet, he noticed near him was a long log floating in the water.
All of a sudden, Brad started to get restless when he took off his sunglasses and realized this log was moving towards him… and quickly.
He reached for his paddle and looked around the lake to see what danger was headed his way. It couldn’t be a log, could it? The lake was calm; there could be no way the log was being pulled so quickly by the current. There was no current! Brad became nervous and kept his eye on this mystery that lurched his way.
But little by little, the thrashing water became closer and closer to his boat. Something in Brad’s subconscious put his whole body on alert. But why?
A Mistaken Log
Brad was initially quite startled, as he was alone and very unsure of what exactly was heading for him. All of a sudden, he spotted some fur on the log, quite a lot of hair, in fact. Brad convinced himself it was a rodent. He thought it could possibly be a beaver.
Relieved to be out of imminent danger, his body began to relax. Little did he know, he should have never trusted his instincts out on the water that day.
Brad suddenly became aware that this was no log at all. As he was startled, he brought himself to his feet, but doing so caused the boat to rock. Brad eventually caught his balance and peered closely. As he did, the boat began to shake uncontrollably and he knew he was doomed. But before disaster struck, he held onto the boat and on his knees crouched down, successfully securing the boat.
Suddenly, a cold sweat started forming all over his body. This day was not going at all as planned, and to make matters worse, the animal was approaching Brad even faster than it had been before. What did it want? And was he sure it was a beaver?
A Mistaken Animal
Both Brad and the creature paddled within an eye’s view of one another, which is when Brad realized that it was a baby animal that was barely afloat. The animal had detached itself from the log it was initially gripping. It was clearly struggling to keep its snout above the water. He knew he had to do something to help.
This poor little beaver must have been incredibly tired from all the paddling. Brad then dove for the creature — but forgot to check one painful fact.
Savior Of The Day
Not only had Brad become aware that this creature was no log at all, but it was alive. And he knew this guy needed help. But still, the animal was too far away for Brad to help him. Eagerly, he decided he was going to paddle that way. He didn’t want anything to suffer while he was around, and more so when he could do something to help.
As he got within arms reach of the creature, he stretched his arm as far as it could go and grabbed onto the animal. Little did he know, this was no log or beaver. What had he just grabbed?
Once Brad had a firm grip on the creature, he pulled it out of the water and placed it at the base of the boat. He recognized with a hint of fear that it was a baby cub. The little guy looked small and weak, just a newborn. He was struggling immensely to breathe due to all the water he had consumed.
The cub couldn’t catch a breath and began to choke, Brad had to think quick on his feet. He needed to save this poor little animal, but how?
Struggling To Swim
Then Brad came back to his senses, and became frantic, now worrying that the cub would bite him — or worse… that the mother was near. The little guy sneezed and released excess water as Brad scoped the shore in search of the dangerous mother bear.
Brad was certain she would be at least 10 times the cub’s size, and his instincts this time were not at all wrong.
Holding On For Life
Brad reached in his backpack beside the little cub to call for help. He recognized that being completely alone with a bear at his side was a threatening position. As he checked his backpack pockets, he considered whether the wildlife rescue crew or the police would arrive faster.
In the end, neither would get the job done because he looked at his phone and had no service. There was only one option left for Brad, and he wasn’t too happy about it.
Suddenly, a plan came into Brad’s head, and as he had no other options, he acted on it. Brad paddled towards the shoreline that the cub had been heading towards before seeking refuge in Brad’s boat. He reasoned that if this was the cub’s initial path, the mother must be near.
Once ashore, Brad again got a grip on the small animal. However, when Brad looked up, he felt cornered and noticed something in the distance.
The trees had cast large shadows on the forest floor and the bushes whistled with the intensifying winds. Brad continued to mistake these images and noises as the mother bear.
In a quick moment, Brad bravely reached again for the cub so he could place him on the ground. However, when Brad reached for the cub, it responded unexpectedly.
Fending For Himself
The creature stayed motionless and very calm. Brad felt the cub was unable to hurt a fly. He no longer worried that the cub would bite him, but he now worried what the cub would do if he couldn’t reunite with his mother.
Brad noticed the cub was gaining strength as they reached the shore, so he knew what it was time to do.
Brad grabbed him and let him wander back into his natural habitat, but sadly, not at his mother’s side. Brad pulled out his phone, but this time to videotape the cub’s departure.
The tiny creature crept back into the woods, but before getting too far, it looked back at Brad – almost thanking him for rescuing his little life.
Once the cub disappeared into the woods, Brad returned to his boat. Along the way back to his truck, Brad reflected on the risk he took saving the baby bear. He also pondered what would have happened had he not taken this day off to go fishing.
Brad spoke to the news and rescue committee the following day in the hopes that there would be news on the whereabouts of his furry friend.
Then, there were reports that a bear cub and its mother had been spotted by hikers in the area. Brad knew in his heart that it was the little cub he had saved, finally reunited with its mother. But Brad was lucky.
Had the mom seen Brad with her cub, it is likely that he would have been viciously attacked. The presence of a bear is dangerous, but this danger intensifies when a human comes near a mother’s cubs.
Rescue committees and experts urge humans in situations like Brad’s not to touch animals in the wild. Normally in the wild, one shouldn’t assume the animal is alone.
However, in this case, because the cub was drowning and at risk of dying, Brad did a wonderful deed. He indeed saved the animal’s life.
Brad surely did not experience the tranquil day he had expected. However, he is thankful he was there to get the little cub out of danger. Next time, Brad might consider bringing a fishing companion to help him when he gets in harm’s way.
Though the experience was thrilling, we can assume Brad does not wish for a next time. The little baby cub may have been the only catch Brad had that day. If you have any questions about what to do when you come across wildlife, The Pennsylvania Game Commission recommends you contact local authorities.