Thomas Walsh was walking his 5-year-old German shepherd, Diesel, on Wednesday afternoon when the dog alerted him about a man who had fallen through the ice in a nearby pond.
Now Walsh and others are praising the dog as a “hero” for ensuring the man got help.
The dog’s barks let Walsh know that something was wrong – and he soon discovered the other man stuck in Quarter Mile Pond on the town line of Stoneham and Medford, Massachusetts.
“[Diesel is] the hero today, because without him seeing or hearing [the man], I would have just kept walking,” Walsh, who’d been wearing earbuds before Diesel started barking, told Boston 25 News.
The 22-year-old man fell through the ice at about 1:45 p.m. Wednesday, according to the Stoneham Fire Department. Walsh told Boston 25 that the man had been riding his bike when he started across the ice.
“Ripping across right in the middle, he went right through,” Walsh told the TV station. “I’m surprised he didn’t go through near the edge.”
After being alerted by Diesel, Walsh called 911, tied the dog to a tree and and helped direct the man to crawl on the ice toward the shore, where he and another passerby used a branch to pull him off the pond.
It wasn’t easy, according to the report. The man kept falling through the ice as he crawled.
“I told him to try to relax, catch your breath, because he was panicking… My instinct was to go in and help him, I’m a great swimmer, but you can’t do that in the winter time,” Walsh told Boston 25.
Stoneham police and firefighters soon arrived after Walsh’s 911 call, and the man was driven to a local hospital in an ambulance, according to the fire department. They said he was treated for injuries that were not life-threatening.
“We are grateful for this outcome and for Diesel alerting his owner that something was wrong,” Stoneham Fire Chief Matthew Grafton said in a written statement. “The two men who helped the patient get to shore did the right thing by calling 911 immediately and using a branch to help pull him in rather than trying to get in the water themselves. These actions helped to save a man’s life this afternoon and are nothing short of heroic.”