Today’s Hero: The Kayaker Who Rescued a Dog Trapped on Icy Lake Michigan

Dave Kehnast saw the dog from the window his apartment and jumped into a wetsuit and kayak to save him. That's our kind of guy.


After running away from his home, a Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever was wandering on the edge of Lake Michigan earlier this week when tragedy stuck: He got stuck on the shifting ice floes, and soon he was well away from land — almost a half mile out.

Dave Kehnast saw the dog from the window his apartment and jumped into action. What sort of action does one take with a strange dog floating on ice chunks? Kehnast had an idea: He put on his wetsuit and grabbed his kayak. Soon he was out there with the dog, coaxing him to shore.

“I saw him way out there and so I grabbed the kayak over here, and I know that the lake is only a couple of feet deep all the way out to where the ice shelf ends. So I knew I’d be fine,” Kehnast said, according to ABC 7.

Emergency crews were also on the scene. What sort of emergency crews? Well, how about a helicopter and a fire department boat? Yes, this was a major rescue. It’s comforting to know that all hands come out for the rescue of a wayward dog.

The dog, however, was having none of it. He scrambled from ice floe to ice floe for about an hour, sometimes slipping into the freezing water. As the crews established a lifesaving line and set about getting a diver to crawl out after the dog, the dog finally responded to Kehnast and his kayak.

“I don’t know if he realized what kind of danger he was actually in,” Kehnast said. “I just kept encouraging him. ‘Here boy, here boy. Here boy, here boy,’ and he wanted to bite me! So I kind of just kept on him.”

The dog made it to the snowy shore, and without a look back, took off. City workers finally trapped the dog in a nearby alley and took him to animal control.

There, they learned his name was Pifas. He was in good health — but not neutered. By law, Pifas needed to be neutered before his owner, Nerijus Steponavicius, could claim him. Steponavicius visited the dog at the Department of Animal Care and Control, and Pifas was delighted to see him, jumping around his cage.

“He is a very shy, very shy dog, so if you or anyone would try to come to him, he would run away,” Steponavicius said, according to the Chicago Tribune.

Unbelievably, the dog had been lost for nine days before he turned up on the ice, but Steponavicius won’t be able to take home his dog until Sunday, the day after his surgery.

Via ABC 7 and the Chicago Tribune

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