Colin White was rescued from drowning in the sea because his German Shepherd dog refused to go back to shore and ended up alerting the coastguard to his whereabouts. White was out walking his dog at the oceanside at Earnse Bay at Walney Cumbria in the UK on Friday when he hurt his leg and got into trouble.
A passerby saw the pair around a half mile out and surrounded by water at the top of the bay and noticed White was struggling. Concerned that the fast-incoming tide would sweep the man and his dog out to sea, the onlooker notified the Walney Coastguard.
When Walney Coastguard arrived at the beach they could see some objects in the water, which they thought might be seals or rocks. They could not be certain it was a man and a dog. When they got closer they spotted Starlight. She was recovered into their boat, but she kept on trying to get back into the water. That's when rescuers were certain the other object further out was Starlight's owner.
They got out to White and rescued him from the water. By the time they got to him, he was semi-conscious and face down in about seven feet of water. White and Starlight were taken to shore and White was airlifted by helicopter to hospital. Starlight was taken care of by police temporarily while White recovered.
"The dog was OK, she was a bit frightened and it took us a while to get hold of her and calm her down. But if she hadn't alerted us to her owner, things might have been very different," said Dennis Laird, a Walney Coastguard spokesman.
Laird said: "This was one very lucky man, with three fortunate points working in his favour. Firstly, it was very opportune that he was spotted by the first informant; secondly, his dog wanting to go back in the water suggested that the other of the two objects visible was indeed a person and not a rock or seal as was first thought; and thirdly, to survive for over an hour in water that is still very cold at this time of year is incredible."
Colin White later told his rescuers he had injured his knee while out walking with Starlight on the beach. The surf came in around him as he struggled to get back to shore. "After being pushed under a fourth time I said to myself, 'I can’t fight any longer’. I’d ordered Starlight back to shore - little did I know she was still with me and helped to save my life," said White.