Owner had jumped in after mixed-breed went over jetty wall
Jess Craigie and her dog Moxie, who were rescued from Lake Michigan. (Photo courtesy Jess Craigie / May 5, 2009)
It's very common for Jess Craigie's dog Moxie to run off after sea gulls during their morning walks along Lake Michigan, but on Tuesday the Chicago woman was stunned when the pooch disappeared off a jetty wall at North Avenue Beach.
"I saw her go over the pier. I was in shock," Craigie said. "When I got to the edge, I saw her dog-paddling. She was clearly panicking."
The Near West Side woman, who had her other dog, Oscar, on a leash, yelled for help. She said she decided to jump into the 40-degree water to rescue Moxie, a 2-year-old mixed-breed, only after she saw a metal pole sticking out of the water that she could hold.
A man nearby, Aloke Mondkar, heard her screams, came to help and tried to stop her from jumping in. But she jumped anyway -- after making sure he had called 911 and handing him the leash for Oscar.
For the next 20 minutes, Craigie treaded water as Moxie stood on her shoulders. The dog struggled unsuccessfully to make it up the 6-foot-tall retaining wall.
Craigie heard Mondkar telling her that help was on the way, and indeed it was. She and Moxie were rescued by a Chicago police marine unit.
"I think when you rescue a dog or own a pet you are 100 percent responsible," she said. "I could never stand there and watch her drown. I don't think I could live with myself knowing I didn't try."
The chill of the water surprised her. "It was definitely a shock. It takes your breath away."
Craigie, 34, was taken to Northwestern Memorial Hospital, where she was treated for hypothermia and released.
"She was absolutely hysterical because that dog could not swim," Mondkar said. "I tried to stop her but she would not listen. ... She jumped in anyway."
Mondkar said he thought about jumping in but decided there would be no one to call 911.
Police Marine Unit No. 8 responded. Officer Jack Hayes donned a cold-water diving suit and jumped in. His partners, Officers Edmund Echevarria and Richard Sakalas, lifted her out of the water.
Echevarria said Craigie probably couldn't have lasted another three minutes in the cold water. The woman complained that her arms and legs were frozen, and asked about her dogs. He said the woman kept repeating herself, saying she was cold and that she was recuperating from a broken arm.
"She's not the first and she's not the last [to do this]," Echevarria said. "People love their dogs."
Craigie had Moxie on a leash until she let her run free to chase birds. In Chicago, dogs are supposed to be leashed in public, but police do not expect to ticket Craigie.
Her husband, Willson, said it did not surprise him that his wife jumped in after the dog. The couple has had Moxie since they found her running across a busy street in Belize when she was about 6 weeks old.
"It's no surprise whatsoever -- either one of us would have done it. ... [Moxie] and the other dog are like our two kids," Willson Craigie said. "I'm very thankful that Mr. Mondkar was there to help. Even though he wasn't very supportive of her decision, he still stuck it out with her."
Dog rescue: Woman jumps into Lake -- chicagotribune.com