A father who took his two sons and their 22-month old dog boating found himself in a life-and-death situation that eventually had a happy ending when the dog saved his life.
Patrick Mulligan was on a boat in their hometown of Newburyport, Massachusetts, with sons Ryan (12) and Lucas (9), and also had his dog Vader, an English labrador, with him when the near-tragedy developed.
Patrick jumped out of his boat to move it closer to shore, but quickly found his life in danger after being enveloped in a current. He was unable to move and didn’t have his life jacket on, so he began swimming toward shore. However, he began suffering cramps after a short while and was still 20-30 yards from shore.
In an effort to eliminate or at least reduce the severity of the cramp, Patrick began to swim the backstroke, followed quickly by the sidestroke. After watching their father go back and forth for approximately 10-15 minutes, Ryan sensed that something was drastically wrong and instructed Vader to, “Go save Daddy.”
The dog, wearing a life jacket, quickly moved toward Patrick and then pivoted, which allowed him to grab hold of the dog’s life jacket. Once that took place, the dog pulled Patrick to safety.
Once Patrick reached shore, he quickly hugged his children. He later noted that he was fearful that his weight wouldn’t allow him to be pulled forward by the dog. However, that fear proved to be incorrect, resulting in the life-saving rescue.