Bombers player helps woman rescue dog from river at Maple Grove park

Brady Oliveira decided to swap the rubber boots he's been sporting lately for a pair of runners when he took his puppy to Maple Grove Dog Park on Tuesday. The Winnipeg Blue Bombers running back didn't know he was on his way to a water rescue.

'I'm just so, so, so happy that I was there,' running back Brady Oliveira says

Winnipeg Blue Bombers running back Brady Oliveira poses with his five-month-old rescue puppy, Nellie. (Jaison Empson/CBC)

When Brady Oliveira took his puppy to Maple Grove Dog Park on Tuesday, he decided to swap the rubber boots he's been sporting lately for a pair of runners.

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers running back didn't know he'd be doing a water rescue during the outing.

"It's crazy how things work," Oliveira said.

"My shoes did get really, really muddy, but it's all good."

Oliveira, 22, was walking through the park with Nellie, a five-month-old dog he rescued in Nelson House, Man., earlier this year, when he saw a woman calling for her dog as she headed toward the steep drop to the riverbank.

When he didn't see her come back up, he decided to venture over to see what was going on.

"I go over there and next thing you know, she is in just such panic," he said.

Brady Oliveira says he helped a woman rescue her dog out of the Red River at Maple Grove Dog Park on Tuesday. (Sarah Petz/CBC )

Oliveira watched in shock as the woman desperately tried to coax her dog out of the river. It had fallen in.

"I remember her saying, like, 'Oh my God, he's not going to come back. I'm going to lose my dog,'" he said. 

'Scary moment'

It didn't take him long to figure out what to do.

"Me being such a big dog lover, I'm like, 'I need to get this dog out of the water,'" he said.

"'Whether I have to go in and swim and get the dog out, I have to get the dog out.'"

Oliveira says his love of dogs is behind the rescue at the park on Tuesday. (Submitted by Brady Oliveira)

The woman slipped and grabbed a nearby tree branch to steady herself as he jumped down to help. He couldn't tell how deep the water was, but it didn't look like they would be able to walk in or out. 

As more time passed, it got harder for them to try to grab the dog — and harder for the dog to keep trying to swim back, he said.

"There's only so much that he could swim before he gets tired, right?" Oliveira said. "You could tell [by the look] on her dog's face, he was panicking extremely. It was just a scary moment."

Finally, the dog got close enough that the woman was able to grab it, and Oliveira was able to get them both out of the water.

"It was just a messy situation, literally. She was wet, the dog was wet, everyone was full of mud," he said.

"I'm just so, so, so happy that I was there at that time and that I saw her going towards the river."

WATCH | Bombers running back Brady Oliviera describes the rescue:

Bombers running back river rescue

3 years ago
Duration 1:47
Winnipeg Blue Bomber running back Brady Oliviera says he was at the right place at the right time to rescue a woman and her dog from the river.

Football 'doesn't last forever'

Oliveira's dog, Nellie, stayed by his side the whole time.

"She is truly amazing. She is such a smart girl," he said. "I also think maybe that's because she is a rescue.… They're extremely, extremely loyal to you."

Nellie is a five-month-old rescue dog from Nelson House, Man. (Submitted by Brady Oliveira)

Oliveira said once the woman recognized him, it was for the football player's work with K9 Advocates Manitoba, a non-profit organization that rescues stray dogs from northern Manitoba communities with dog overpopulation problems.

The volunteer role is an important part of his life, he said.

"I definitely do not want to be defined by the game of football, because you never know when the game of football is going to be done. It doesn't last forever," he said.

"That's why I do so much community work, because I'm super passionate about giving back and helping others."

Oliveira hopes he can help draw attention to the non-profit, which finds dogs in need of help in northern Manitoba, where veterinary services are lacking, gets them vaccinated and brings them to shelters across the country — and relies on donations to do it all.

Oliveira says it's important to him to do his part to help the community, which is why he volunteers with animal rescue organization K9 Advocates Manitoba. (Submitted by Brady Oliveira)

And if he sees the woman and her dog again, Oliveira said he hopes it's under better conditions.

"I'm sure I definitely will see her around again at Maple Grove," he said. "We can have another laugh about this whole crazy situation that went down."

With files from Meaghan Ketcheson


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