Rich Zuccarello took his dog, Smokey bear, out for a walk by the canal near Old Town Scottsdale. His pup wanted to go see the ducks, but with every step, he got closer to the ice-cold water. The freezing temperatures that day was at 40°F (~4°C).
"I take him out every morning, and I almost lost him that morning," said Zuccarello.
"He got up on the brick part, probably about eight inches (~20cm) wide," said Zuccarello. "As soon as I saw him get up there, I called him. Instead of coming toward me, he took one step toward the water. His hind legs slipped off, and he slipped over the edge and disappeared."
Rich quickly grabbed the leash, trying to yank Smokey Bear back to the surface.
"I got his head above the water," said Zuccarello. "When I went to take a big pull to get him into my arms, his weight pulled me in, and I just flipped into the water."
In the middle of this, Zuccarello dislocated his shoulder. He held onto his 80lbs dog and he yelled for their lives.
"I felt that helpless moment where my dog and I could literally drown, or I could drown trying to rescue him," said Zuccarello.
Ryan Correa was nearby and heard Zuccarello's cries for help. Naturally, he reacted and tried to save him.
"I heard someone across the water yell ‘help,’ and I didn't know what was going on," Correa recounted. "I look over and see him reaching for something in the water. I saw Smokey emerge. I knew there was no choice. I didn't think. I just jumped."
Correa jump into the freezing cold water, swam across the canal, and held onto Smokey as Zuccarello tried to get himself onto the ledge.
"He kept going under, so once [Zuccarello] was out of the water, I told him to tug on the leash," said Correa.
"He was able to hand me the dog, and we both got up top safely," said Zuccarello. "I was like ‘thank you. You literally saved my dog.’"
Thinking back to that moment, Correa said he can feel the weight of the incident.
"I like dogs. I like dogs a lot, so there was no way I was gonna let a dog drown, and [Zuccarello] too. No way I was gonna let that happen," said Correa.
Zuccarello calls Correa his hero, but Correa remains humble.
"I don't think I'm a hero. I just think I'm human," said Correa. "I'm just glad Smokey Bear and [Zuccarello] are OK."
Correa and Zuccarello have become friends. But Zuccarello learned a lesson and wants pet owners to be vigilant when they are walking along a canal.
Source: FOX 10