Nova Scotia

Best rescue ever: Canadian Coast Guard retrieves golden retriever

The head of the Canadian Coast Guard rescue team says it was her best day of five years on the job.

Dog successfully reunited with owners after more than 45 minutes in waters off Nova Scotia beach

Harlow Lachance, Bronwyn Forsythe and Breagh Harrie (left to right) are all smiles after rescuing this dog in the waters off Lawrencetown. (Breagh Harrie)

Breagh Harrie, coxswain for the Inshore Rescue Boat Service with the Canadian Coast Guard, says she and her team are responsible for saving people who find themselves in all sorts of emergencies, from capsized vessels to fires.

But her best rescue ever came Monday when her job went to the dogs.

Well, dog.

"This was honestly, in my five years, this was probably my favourite call," Harrie said as she told CBC's Maritime Noon about the rescue of a golden retriever. "Not because it involved a dog but because it was such a happy ending and we were able to reunite the dog with its owners.

"Being dog owners, it's terrifying when your dog takes off. It's a child to people that own them. And it's a wonderful feeling when we can help people out that way."

The rescue began after the dog took to the waters at Conrad's Beach, at Lawrencetown on Nova Scotia's Eastern Shore.

Team effort

After about 45 minutes, the animal was nowhere to be seen. 

That's when Harrie and her deckhands, Harlow Lachance and Bronwyn Forsythe, received a call from the Joint Rescue Co-ordination Centre and sprung into action from their position off nearby Cow Bay.

The dog was disoriented and dehydrated by the time he was lifted aboard, but happy to see people and be out of the water. (Breagh Harrie)

"We began a search pattern, and about five minutes into the search pattern one of my deckhands, Bronwyn, she spotted something in the water, so we approached and sure enough the dog was swimming in the water," Harrie said.

"It seemed to be a little bit disoriented. It was about half a mile offshore at this point and we slowly approached the dog not to scare it, and we came alongside. My other deckhand, Harlow, he was able to reach over and grab the dog, he was wearing a harness.

"And so once he had the dog alongside the boat we put another rope underneath the dog's hips and then all three of us lifted the dog into the boat."

Harrie said the dog was scared of their boat at first, but once the animal realized they were there to help he decided to get out of the water. The dog was tired and dehydrated after being pulled from the calm waters, but also happy and wagging its tail. 

'We're all dog owners'

The group got in touch with the owners, but never got to meet them because the surf off Lawrencetown made the chances of beaching the rescue boat too high. Instead, the owners approached a lifeguard on the beach who swam out to the vessel with a rescue board.

"The two of them swam into shore where the owners met them," Harrie said, though the dog found the rescue board too unstable and swam alongside the lifeguard.

Harrie said she and her team had never had a call like this before.

"It was very unusual for us — kind of scary, we're all dog owners, me and my crew," she said. "And we understand the panic that sets in when your dog is out of sight for even five minutes, let alone 45 minutes in the water. So it was very dramatic for us as well, but we were happy to help and get involved."

The dog swims ashore with a lifeguard. (Breagh Harrie)