MUSKEGON, Mich. (WOOD) — A Muskegon dog is back home after spending a night stranded on the ice on Muskegon Lake.
The dog, Max, is 1 years old. His owners say he got loose last weekend while they were at church.
“When I got him, I was pregnant,” started Trinity Olejarcyzk who owns the puppy. “There was a lot of negative things that people were telling me and I think Max just kind of made it so that there was a little light”
Olejarcyzk described the dog as a protector and an integral part of her family. She says he sticks close by her and her 6-month-old son. She says that’s why when he disappeared Sunday, it was very difficult.
The family said they checked every nearby shelter. They also posted their dog’s picture on Facebook in hopes of someone recognizing him.
“I was on my hands and knees and I was bowing down and I was just like ‘please just give me a sign. Show me something. Tell me that he’s either OK or that he’s dead. I want to stop worrying,'” Olejarcyzk said as she recalled praying for her dog’s return.
Olejarcyzk said her phone rang in the midst of this. She soon found out Max had been floating and stranded on Muskegon Lake.
“We were gearing up because one way or another, we were going to get that dog,” Jeff Wever said who helped to rescue the boat.
Wever along with a crew of mariners who work on the Barbara Andrie tugboat happened to be out on the water. They were finishing up an 18-hour shift when they say they spotted the dog on a thin sheet of ice.
“He was pretty far out, so it was kind of a surprise to me … all alone at night, scared, freezing,” deckhand Craig Benedetti said.
The crew says they attempted to lure the dog over with treats, but he was afraid. They say at one point, he fell off his sheet of ice but recovered quickly. After more than 30 minutes of trying, the crew said they pulled the dog to safety.
“It’s slim to none to come back out of the water, especially when it’s this cold,” Wever said. “We were just in the right place at the right time.”
The dog has since been taken to the veterinarian’s office. His doctor says outside of having an acute case of pneumonia, Max is fine. The physician said being exposed to the elements did not cause the dog to become sick but likely weakened his immune system. He will have to take some antibiotics to get rid of his pneumonia.
Dr. Karyn Houser of the Glenpark Animal Hospital says he may also be a bit sore for the next few days after being exposed to the elements and working to stand on the ice for so long.
“What we worry the most about is frostbite on their feet,” Houser said. “He’s a lucky boy.”
His owners say they’re incredibly grateful to have the dog back home. They called his journey inspirational.
“If this little dog can go through all that and still be OK, then I can go through anything,” Olejarcyzk said.