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Good samaritan saves dog from drowning


JackieMaya
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Man strips to his shorts, jumps into Lake Harriet and rescues dog

Martha Sawyer Allen, Star Tribune
Published May 6, 2003 DOG06


Every once in a while, a man is a dog's best friend.

On Saturday morning a dog swam about 300 yards into chilly Lake Harriet in south Minneapolis. Apparently, it got confused and didn't know where to turn..

The dog appeared to be in serious trouble.

About a dozen folks standing on shore were talking to the dog's owner, asking whether it was time to get help.

Just then a man walked up, saw the dog, stripped to his shorts and swam into the 52-degree water. He reached the dog and swam back to shore, talking to the pooch the whole way.

"I helped the guy up the bank when he got in," said Jon Haugee of St. Louis Park. "He said he was a dog owner and a lifeguard and he just couldn't do anything else."

No one knows the man's name, so the dog's owner couldn't thank him. He rested for a while on a bench, put on his clothes and left.

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Here is an update on the previously unknown man who saved the dog from drowning:

Found: Man who braved chilly Lake Harriet to save dog

Peg Meier, Star Tribune
Published May 7, 2003 DOG07

The man who rescued the confused dog from the cold waters of Lake Harriet Saturday morning has been identified. Please don't call him a hero, he said. What's more accurate? "Nice guy," he suggested.

He is Mike Back, 28, of Otsego, Minn., a lifeguard and lifeguard trainer, a substitute physical education teacher in the Buffalo, Elk River and Monticello school districts, a three-time marathon runner and, most important, he said, a dog lover.

Back and his wife, Mandy, were training for next month's Grandma's Marathon when he spotted a dog -- he thinks it was a springer spaniel -- swimming in circles. The owner had let it off its leash to swim. It paddled away to chase ducks, became confused and wouldn't come back to shore, despite its owner's pleading.

Back asked by-standers whether the dog needed help. The owner said yes. "My conscience as a dog owner kicked in," Back recalled, whose dog is Ozzy, a black Lab. He kicked off his running shoes and one of two pairs of shorts he was wearing, and he headed in to what he called "very cold" water -- about 52 degrees. With sweet talk and a hand on the dog's harness, Back guided the animal back to shore.

He didn't get the name of dog or its owner. He wasn't offered a reward, nor does he want one. He doesn't want to be honored.

But a modest story on the Star Tribune Web site Monday and Tuesday attracted substantial readership and praise for Back. Mary Legeros of Minneapolis, for example, sent this e-mail:

"I own two dogs, live by Lake Harriet and run and walk them there almost every day. If you find this kind person, just tell him thanks from another dog lover. He is my hero. I have rescued dogs from hot cars and lost dogs, but I have not jumped in the lake, yet. I hope I would do the same."

Hey, Mike: Thanks.

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