Hero on four legs: Blind dog saves 15-year-old from drowning

Even though this story dates back a few years, it's still fascinating, even today: in 1993, Annette McDonald from Oregon wanted to adopt a dog. In her local animal home, she met and fell head over heels in love with Norman, who was already scheduled to be put to sleep. She didn't know it at the time, but with her decision, she saved more than just the life of a dog.

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Norman, as the Labrador Retriever was named, regularly accompanied Annette and her husband on beach walks along the River Necanicum, not far from where the mouth of the river meets the Pacific Ocean. Norman was quickly becoming a true and loved member of the family.

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After a time however, the lively dog became ill. He stumbled, and seemed to have problems orienting himself. After going to the vet's, they received the terrible diagnosis: Norman was suffering from retinal atrophy. This meant that his retinas were slowly degenerating.

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Unfortunately, there is no treatment for this condition, meaning that Norman would completely lose his eyesight. But despite these difficult constraints, he remained the happy dog that Annette had adopted. Above all, he could still romp around on the beach by the Necanicum River without any restrictions.

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One day, in 1996, Annette spontaneously decided to go for a walk with Norman to the nearby beach, although she had actually wanted to read a book. Where the River Necanicum meets the Pacific Ocean, the current can become dangerous for swimmers. What happened next would definitely confirm this.

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As she and her four-legged friend arrived at the shore, Norman suddenly ran towards the river, because he could hear something undetectable to human ears, the cries of a drowning girl. Lisa and her brother, Joe Nibley, who were on holiday in the area with their parents, had been caught by the current while swimming. Though they were both good swimmers, and this wasn't their first time bathing there, they were now struggling in the tidal current.

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"The current started to form, and it got deeper, (...) and I remember I got pushed away from my brother," Lisa explains. Her brother could only use the last of his strength to save himself, reaching the opposite bank of the river.

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But Lisa still found herself in danger, and was already starting to drown when Norman heard her voice and swam to her. As Annette had now caught up with Norman, she shouted to Lisa in the water, saying she should call "Norman," so that he could find her in the water — the girl struggling to stay afloat had no way of knowing that Norman was blind.

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By heeding Annette's words, the 15-year-old was saved by the brave dog. Lisa grabbed onto Norman and, guided by the sound of Annette calling his name from the shore, was brought back to the beach. She remembers, "When I saw him swimming toward me, I knew that everything was going to be alright."

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The following video shows a reconstruction of the rescue and also a includes a little song at the end from Lisa, for her rescuer.

What a happy outcome for what was almost a tragedy! Who would have thought that a trip to the animal home could also save people's lives?

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