A 15-year-old blind and deaf Jack Russell terrier named Charlie is lucky to be alive after becoming stranded in the middle of the Harpeth River in Tennessee. Animal control officer Randall Brown swam out and rescued him, and got him reunited with his owner.
“He was so happy to see me,” said owner Emily Massey. “He would not quit licking me, with his sewer breath. I didn’t care – he was so happy.”
She still has no idea how he ended up on the sandbar, because she was nowhere near the river, and in his condition, Charlie doesn’t venture too far.
“The mystery of it is what’s killing me,” she said.
Charlie accompanied Massey on Saturday afternoon as she cleaned out a barn that sits beside the river.
“He can’t hear very well. He can’t see,” Massey said. “I thought he would stay close to me like he always does.”
She began her search for him, fearing that at his age, Charlie went to find a quiet, secluded place to die.
Later that day, a woman attending an outdoor wedding near another bend in the river could hear a dog barking for help. Charlie was stuck on a sandbar.
Animal control officer Randall Brown responded to the woman’s call. He grabbed a leash, secured himself to a life preserver, and swam out to Charlie.
“I was able to get a leash around the dog,” Brown said. “Me and the dog went for a swim.”
He took Charlie to the county animal shelter, who was able to quickly get him back together with Massey after they received an email from her brother to inquire if they had taken in any elderly black and white Jack Russells.
“He can’t hear, he can’t see, but you can tell he knew that was his owner,” said shelter director Laura Chavarria.