Pint-sized canine saves owner from drowning by alerting friend

Posted: Monday, June 10, 2002

NEW WESTMINSTER, Brit-ish Columbia (AP) -- Keith Thorp says his pint-sized dog's determination to get help saved him from drowning in the Fraser River.

Thorp, 66, was walking along a dock from his friend's boat just before midnight recently when he slipped and fell into the river's Annacis Channel.

He tried to haul himself back up, but because he has arthritis, the dock was too high to swing his leg up. He tried shimmying down the dock to a lower spot, but grew tired.

He tried calling for help, but after a half-hour in the water, ''I was almost unconscious,'' he said. ''I was beginning to think I couldn't hang on any longer in the cold water.''

But Thorp's dog, Hunter, a Pomeranian-corgi cross, ran back to Thorp's friend's boat and started barking. And barking. And barking.

Mike Saunders woke up to see Hunter alone.

''I didn't understand what he was talking about at first,'' he said Thursday. ''Then I caught on that something was wrong.''

Saunders hurried down the dock to see what had happened.

He pulled Thorp up to safety, helped him back aboard his boat, then called for help.

Thorp was hospitalized overnight.

Hunter's reward: a chew stick and some cookies.

''He's my little buddy,'' said Thorp, who's had Hunter -- who's 10 or 11 -- for about seven years. ''I don't know what I'd do without him.''

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