Call it coincidence or divine intervention, but one pastor’s injury caused him to be at the right place at the right time to save the life of a neighbor’s dog.
Randy Passons, the associate pastor at Crossroads Christian Fellowship in Victor, Montana, had taken his seven-year-old daughter Avery swimming at Flathead Lake. He was relaxing on a dock while Avery and some other neighborhood kids swam on the scorching day.
Randy had been wearing a walking boot after an injury and surgery, and took the boot off to soak his feet in the cool water. He had recently overdone it a bit during what he calls “full-contact preaching” at a Sunday sermon.
“I was running up and down the stage stairs, and when I hit the main level of the stage I heard it snap,” he said. “I ended up finishing, hopping on one foot. The context (of the sermon) made it seem like part of the act. Most people didn’t know what I’d done.”
Taking it easy at the lake, he kept an eye on the kids. Sister and brother Kyra and Chase Wilkerson had brought their Boston terrier, Dozer, to chase sticks in the water. Kyra threw a gigantic stick out, and Dozer splashed after it.
“It was nothing unusual for Dozer. But I noticed his back end sinking down. It’s very clear water and you could see to the bottom. He took that stick underwater and started swimming on the bottom, and I’m thinking, he better let go of that stick. It was mildly concerning, Randy explained. “That dog would hang on to a stick if it were attached to a jet plane. I watched it carefully. He stopped swimming and started to roll.”
Suddenly, the small dog vomited under the water and went motionless. Without hesitation, Randy, on a bad leg, leaped in after him.
“Dozer’s dead,” Kyra screamed, as she hysterically called to her mother. “He drowned!”
“It was easy to believe that Dozer was gone to chase sticks in the afterlife,” Randy mused. “He was emotionless, breathless; there was nothing there.”
But 20 years earlier, Randy had been trained as an emergency medical technician, and now knew it was possible to also resuscitate animals.
“‘It can’t hurt to try, I thought.’ So I did chest compressions, grabbed his face in both hands to seal the sides of Dozer’s wide mouth.”
With children all around him screaming and crying, each breath into Dozer’s mouth felt like an eternity. Then, Dozer slowly started coming back to life.
“A little mouse’s breath, the faintest, tiniest little breath,” Randy said.
Though the dog had just been pulled from the lake, Randy poured a little water on him to save him from the 100-degree heat.
“His head came up. Thirty seconds later he jumped up, wanting to catch a stick,” he said. “It turned the worst day (for those kids) into the best day.”
Kyra is calling Dozer her “miracle.”
“He’s my baby. I love that little dog,” she said. “He loves the water, and we’re getting him a life jacket to wear from now on.”
Avery hugged her dad tight that evening, thanking him for saving the terrier’s life.
“Every dad wants to be a hero,” Randy said. “It made my year.”
He believes it was more than just coincidence that he be there when his neighborhood needed him most.
“If God needed (this torn tendon) to happen so I’d be there on that dock, I’d do it again. I’d spend another three months in a walking cast.”