The sun was shining in Old Town Scottsdale, Arizona when Rich Zuccarello set out for his morning walk with his dog, Smokey Bear.
The pair stroll along the banks of the canal just about every day, but that day nearly turned fatal for both Rich and his 80-pound pitbull. The trouble started when Smokey Bear insisted on getting close to the chilly water to see the ducks in the canal. When Rich tried to call him away from the water, the dog’s hind feet slipped and he plunged into the canal.
The water was cold that morning, and Rich rushed to pull Smokey Bear from the water. The dog was so heavy that when Rich tried to haul him out, he wound up falling in himself. Thinking fast, Rich tried to keep his dog and himself afloat, dislocating his shoulder in the process.
“I felt that helpless moment where my dog and I could literally drown, or I could drown trying to rescue him,” Rich recalled.
Ryan Correa was walking nearby when he heard Rich screaming for help. As soon as Ryan saw Smokey Bear in the water, he sussed out the situation and jumped into the water to save them.
“I didn’t think,” said Ryan. “I just jumped.”
Ryan swam across the canal and held onto Smokey Bear as Rich pulled himself out of the canal. Then he handed Smokey up to his very grateful owner.
“He was able to hand me the dog, and we both got up top safely,” said Rich. “I was like ‘thank you. You literally saved my dog.'”
Ryan has zero regrets about helping Rich and Smokey Bear, and he got emotional as he remembered how close they came to losing Smokey.
“I like dogs,” he said. “I like dogs a lot, so there was no way I was gonna let a dog drown, and [Rich] too. No way I was gonna let that happen.”
Ryan says he doesn’t consider himself a hero, just “human,” but we beg to differ! We’re so glad everyone got out of this scary situation okay.
Share this story to thank Ryan for running to help a human and canine in need.
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