When you have a job that entails being on the open ocean, you have to be ready to expect the unexpected. Letting your guard down for a single moment could place you in unimaginable peril. In an environment where so much is unpredictable, a pleasant boat ride can change in the blink of an eye.
This is a lesson one ferry operator learned for himself firsthand. It all started out as a normal day docking his boat, until he had to take his life in his own hands. Then there was also the matter of his stowaway…
The Swedish island of Gotland is a popular place for tourists from all around the world. However, no one knows the beauty of a place quite like the island’s most popular ferry operator…
His name is Johan Skärkarl (left) and he’s spent nearly his entire life in Gotland. He works long hours each week to bring visitors to and from the Gotland island in a very sleek state of the art ferry.
Johan and his trusty crew saw their fair share of unusual things over the course of their career. However, one afternoon, they experienced something that shocked even these seasoned sailors.
On this particular afternoon, the HSC Gotlandia II was docked in a large port in Visby, the island’s most populated town. As Johan was getting off the vessel, he noticed there was some commotion occurring at the aft…
Johan approached the flurry of activity and was told by a few people standing on the docks that they were almost certain there was some sort of animal clinging to the bottom of his ferry. Without hesitation, Johan changed into a specialized suit so he could enter the frigid water.
The ocean waters at this time of year were especially cold, and without the proper gear, a person could quickly develop hypothermia and lose consciousness. Johan knew better than to tempt fate.
Once Johan was sure his special suit was fastened tightly, he began to climb down the ladder into the ocean. He knew there were people looking out for his safety, but he wanted to take precautions of his own.
Of course, if you’ve ever heard of the Polar Bear club, then you know there are those who knowingly enter dangerously frigid water wearing nothing but bathing suits. Johan’s mission, however, was far more important than an entertaining dip in the water…
Soon enough, Johan found himself adjusting to the water’s temperature. Sure, the suit he was wearing prevented much of the cold from affecting him, but when dealing with temperatures near freezing, nothing will entirely keep the cold out.
It took Johan a few minutes to adjust to the water, but once he was ready, he slowly maneuvered his body onto his back. This was the position he was going to take for his journey, and there was a very specific reason why…
The specialized suit that Johan was wearing was popular among sailors and others who spent much of their time on the ocean. When the person wearing it flipped onto their back, the suit acted like an insulated flotation device, which is exactly what Johan needed.
As Johan floated, he paddled both of his arms back towards his ship. He still had no idea what he was going to find, but if it was an animal, he didn’t want to startle it…
Slowly but surely, Johan made his way closer to the aft end of the HSC Gotlandia II. Once he arrived, he flipped over onto his stomach and reached his hand up to a ledge that wasn’t visible from the dock. What was he about to grab?
Within seconds of Johan reaching onto the back ledge, he came floating out on his back with a small animal resting on his chest. It wasn’t immediately apparent what it was, but soon, people were in shock…
It was a cat! He didn’t seem to be injured, but he was clearly frazzled by the entire ordeal. The feline was lucky someone spotted him; it had no way of getting onto the dock without the assistance of a human.
Once Johan got close enough, he tossed the cat onto the dock with one swift motion. The frazzled feline seemed to understand he was finally safe on land thanks to his human hero!
The suit Johan was wearing did its job, and the frigid waters didn’t inhibit him from making sure he completed his task. Of course, Johan wasn’t a man to give up, and either way, he would have ensured the cat’s safe return.
The cat, slightly disoriented, hung around the dock for a short time before finally wandering off into the town of Visby. Johan thought about adopting the little guy, but if the cat belonged to a town resident, he didn’t want to strip them of their incredibly lucky pet.
They say cats have nine lives, and this guy certainly spent one, if not more, clinging to the back of Johan’s ferry! That rescue was a close call, though not nearly as dire as the animal emergency that derailed one bachelor party.
Any dog owner will tell you with the utmost confidence that their pooch’s sense of smell is far superior to any human’s. All it takes is a brief whiff of something unusual and they’re off to find the origin!
Thanks to their dog’s incredible sense of smell, some friends who were staying at a cabin for their pal’s bachelor party made a startling discovery. It made for a trip they wouldn’t soon forget.
Vladimir Gurko / Flickr
See, one friend in the group brought his dog along for the weekend retreat, but the second they arrived the dog picked up on some scent. Stunning everyone, she sprinted toward an abandoned metal boat.
It took the men a few minutes to finally catch up with her, but when they did, they noticed she was completely transfixed on the upside-down metal boat. The group tried to coax her away, but she refused to move…
The dog was laser-focused on something underneath the metal hull. She kept circling the boat excitedly, and she refused to leave its side. Something was in there… but what?
The friends were too curious to leave the dog alone, so they lifted one side of the boat so she could get under. Then, one of the guys peeked underneath—and he came face-to-face with two precious kittens!
Their sweet dog had caught the scent of the abandoned kittens, and she refused to go anywhere until she lead her human friends to them! The men stared in awe; they couldn’t believe what she had discovered.
The men had no way of knowing just how long the kittens had been hiding under the boat. They also couldn’t tell whether they were abandoned by owners or if perhaps their mother had been killed.
Regardless of how they got there or how long they’d been stranded, both of the precious kitties were in terrific shape. They weren’t injured, and they seemed just as sprightly as animals who came from loving homes.
The friends were amazed that their dog was quite taken with the pair. Whenever cats and dogs meet, you never really know what the outcome will be. In this case, however, the dog was instantly smitten!
Her maternal instincts seemed to have kicked in instantly, and the kittens had absolutely no fear of her, either! The men watched as both kittens walked up to the dog as if they were longtime friends.
The men finally overturned the boat and rested it next to where the kittens were sitting. They were both so tiny! Their eyes opened wide as soon as they saw the forest around them.
It only took a few minutes before their dog began treating the kittens as her own. She started licking the cats and bathing them, making sure their fur was rid of the dirt that had been caked into their fur.
The men knew that if it wasn’t for their dog’s instincts, the kittens would’ve died. The guys were miles into the woods, and there would’ve been no way for the cats to find food; they were too young and helpless.
The men were all thankful for the discovery, but it was their dog who was the proudest. It was almost as if she understood that in her finding the kittens, she saved them from certain death.
Not surprisingly, the friends’ weekend plans changed drastically. Since they had enough provisions they scooped up the kittens and brought them into their cabin so the animals could finally enjoy a proper meal.
They prepared a huge bowl of food for their new friends. The men had intended on making burgers while they camped, but they quickly realized the meat could be used in a much more valuable way.
As it turned out, the kittens were unfortunately abandoned by their mother. The men took them both to a local vet. They wanted to make sure there were no health issues with their two new precious pals…
Luckily, the vet gave the kittens clean bills of health; everyone was amazed the kittens were in such good shape. Soon after the vet visit, two of the friends actually adopted them!
It was the perfect ending to an eventful weekend. The men were able to enjoy each other’s company, celebrate a bachelor party, and return home with two brand new additions to their group.
A weekend in the woods and a random discovery of kittens? Now that’s a bachelor party! And it’s all thanks to their pup’s strong senses, but amazingly, this kitten rescue wasn’t even the most heroic dog save…
© William Krusche
February 15, 2015, began as a day like any other for police officer Jeff Gonzalez. The quiet neighborhood of Autumn Ridge, Wisconsin, seemed as peaceful as ever, however, that was all about to change.
It was a particularly cold day with lots of snow, which was just one of the reasons why it was so strange that Officer Gonzalez saw a clearly distressed black Labrador retriever wandering around by himself.
Fox 6 Now
Even though he wasn’t necessarily responsible for assisting lost pets, Officer Gonzalez had an affinity for animals. Besides, he believed it was the right thing to do for his community.
The dog was frantically pacing back and forth. Concerned that he might run into the road and get hit by a car, Office Gonzalez reduced his speed in an attempt to get closer to the animal and keep him calm.
Michigan State Police Emergency Management / Flickr
At that point, the dog took notice of the police officer, and although he stopped walking, he started barking… loudly. Gonzalez thought the dog seemed friendly, but something was definitely wrong…
Officer Gonzalez stepped out of his car, and the Lab started running around frantically. The officer could only assume he had done something to frighten the pup. Unless there was something more?
When the dog stopped again and looked back at Officer Gonzalez, it became clear that he wanted to lead him somewhere. Intrigued, the officer obliged, and he followed the dog directly to a nearby house.
It was here that Officer Gonzalez found a woman, whom he assumed was the dog’s owner, slumped over in a chair on the porch. He quickly assessed her condition, and she didn’t move when he touched her.
Officer Gonzalez initially assumed the worst. “When I went up, she was very cold to the touch. Her lips were blue.” Thankfully, he checked her pulse—she was still alive! He immediately called dispatch for help.
Officer Gonzalez also contacted his partner, who helped him carry the woman into her home. The frigid temperatures could have threatened her life just as much as whatever else she was suffering from.
While they waited for the ambulance to arrive, the two officers were able to identify the woman: Krystal Wendt. With that information, they quickly tried to reach her next of kin.
Officer Gonzalez had the difficult job of calling Tianne Wendt, Krystal’s daughter. “Basically what he told me was… he said that they thought that she was dead,” the young woman said.
Shocked, Tianne and her aunt rushed to the hospital where the police had just taken Krystal. From there, all they could do was sit and wait. Meanwhile, Krystal’s dog—John Boy—was still worried, too!
Eventually, the women were informed that the incident had been caused by Krystal’s heart condition. The doctors explained that she had been unconscious in the cold for nearly an hour, but she survived!
Krystal’s survival was thanks largely to both Officer Gonzalez’s quick thinking and the cleverness of her black Labrador retriever, John Boy. Officer Gonzalez was quick to credit John Boy for saving the day!
Officer Gonzalez was convinced that John Boy was the true hero of the story. “I gotta believe that at this point, he pointed me in the right direction,” the officer said in an interview.
Tianne confirmed that John Boy and Krystal shared an important relationship. That shouldn’t have come as any surprise since John Boy had three stints in a local shelter before Krystal adopted him!
Tianne believed John Boy and her mother were meant for each other. Though Krystal would need to be deemed healthy enough in order to return home, at least she would have someone special waiting for her.
Tianne gave Officer Gonzalez a big hug to thank him. Her mother was on the road to recovery, and it was all because this officer took the time to investigate a situation that others might have brushed off.