It was a cool Tuesday evening in June when Xena, an 18-month old black Labrador, noticed the gate to her family’s home mistakenly left open. Being young and inquisitive, she decided to make use of this rare opportunity and ducked out under the cover of darkness to do a bit of exploring of her neighbourhood in Strand, Cape Town. Little did she know that the seemingly harmless adventure she was embarking on would come to a dramatic end 6 days later in the cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean.
It was the morning after Xena’s escape that her owner, Odette Wiggins realised something was very wrong. Xena did not show up for her morning feeding, which prompted Odette to reach out to the K9 unit of the security company she works at for help. They didn’t hesitate to come to her aid and sprang into action soon after. “The unit handed out our contact details, so that if someone found Xena they knew who to contact”, said Odette.
But she didn’t stop there. Odette also took to Facebook and posted a picture of Xena, along with a message asking her community members for their help to locate the Labrador. This would prove to be a great move on Odette’s part, as just a few days later someone recognised Xena.
Unfortunately, this was the beginning of Xena’s ocean ordeal.
The concerned citizen who spotted Xena alerted the Gordon’s Bay Animal Welfare Society when calming and capturing Xena proved to be difficult. By the time a representative from the Society arrived, a group of would-be helpers had amassed trying to bring Xena in. This, however, proved to do more harm than good as the amount of people frightened Xena and caused her to run away.
After being followed for around 2 hours, Xena had run out of options. Driven by fear and panic, she found herself at Hendon Park with only one more way out: the ocean.
At around 10h30 on Monday, 13 June, the NSRI’s Gordon’s Bay station was alerted to a dog swimming 800m off shore. The alert also stated that a near-by charter boat called Skipjack, had been able to rescue the dog after being tipped off by a member of the public. When the NSRI arrived on the scene minutes later, Skipjack skipper, Julian White told them that the Lab was rescued with moments to spare and that she appeared to be sinking when they reached her.
Although now safely on board, Xena was not out of danger yet as she could barely lift her head due to extreme exhaustion and was also showing signs of hypothermia. She was wrapped in a thermal blanket and taken to the NSRI’s sea rescue base, where the Gordon’s Bay Animal Welfare Society took her into their care. Luckily, Xena was chipped so her owners were contacted soon after.
Xena’s family took her to a local vet for further care, where she was placed on a drip. It was soon discovered that she had water on her lungs, which affected her breathing. She was then transferred to Tygerberg Animal Hospital, where X-rays revealed that Xena also had a collapsed lung. She spent two days in the hospital’s ICU unit and was only released into her family’s care a day later.
After a quick course of antibiotics, Xena has made a full recovery and is happier than ever. But it would seem her ordeal did not leave her completely unscathed. “I’ve noticed that when we go for walks she gets frightened very easily by people making sudden movements or wanting to touch her. But other than that, she is her old self again”, said Odette.
Xena’s happy ending is thanks to a number of key players. Jock Dog Food would like to commend all those involved in her rescue, especially the crew of the Skipjack, the NSRI and the Gordon’s Bay Animal Welfare Society.
Main Image sourced from NSRI