Durban - A desperate dog has been saved from a watery grave by a kind-hearted team aboard an offshore supply boat who snapped into action when they saw him fighting for his life.
The male greyhound has not had much of a life judging by its condition, but on Sunday, he was almost dog-gone.
The 4-year-old dog, spotted swimming in the sea outside the entrance to Durban Harbour - midway between the South and North piers - was initially thought to be a seal.
But the men on board the boat Ocean Stroom did a double take when they realised it was a dog - and that he was getting exhausted from his efforts to swim to safety in the current. Due to the size of the blocks on the pier, the closest place for it to scramble ashore was more than a kilometre away.
The boat, skippered by Quinton Shooter, with a crew of four, had just been out to sea to resupply a tanker and bring three staff back to shore.
Worried that the dog would drown any minute, Shooter called up port control to report there was a dog in the channel and that he was going to help it.
He did a circle to reach the greyhound and tried to coax it on board, but no avail: the boat was too high for it.
It managed to get on to the partly-exposed rudder, but had to be chased off as the boat was in danger of hitting the pier.
Then, after everyone debated on how to rescue the dog, the skipper put down a platform - a green step-ladder - and the tanker security team leader picked up the soaking dog.
“Everyone was happy that we had rescued him. He was extremely tired,” the skipper said.
The owner of the boat, Lamont Hitchings, took the dog home for the night and fed him and yesterday contacted Kim Samuels of Project Dog, which rescues and finds homes for about 60 animals a month, to see if she could help.
Samuels collected the greyhound, which she promptly nicknamed “Seadog” and took him to vet, Dr Kerry Easson, for a check-up.
Easson, who does a lot of rescue work and already has greyhounds, decided to adopt the dog, but will rename him.
“The dog is friendly, but very scared, traumatised and obviously exhausted,” Samuels said.
She had no idea how the dog ended up in the sea, but said it was the second time one had been fished out of the water.
“Quite frankly, I don’t want to think how it got there. The heroes were the men on the boat. Seadog would never have survived without them.”
Easson said the dog had fur missing caused by a rope or a collar and was very submissive.
It also had sores and worms and “probably had a hard life”.
It was still exhausted, had sore muscles and had slept all day yesterday.
The mystery of how he got in the sea would probably never be solved, Easson said.
Asked if she thought its former owners had thrown it in, she said: “Nothing surprises me anymore.”
She would vaccinate the greyhound, microchip and deworm him.