Fast-acting motorist rescues elderly blind Lab from creek

The yellow lab's struggles to get out of the frigid pond caught the eye of NSTAR supervisor John Dumas as he drove home along Lagoon Pond Road.

Tyger rested comfortably on Wednesday, after his rescue from the mud and water the night before. — Photo by Ian Tripp

Tyger sometimes wanders. On Tuesday night, the 14-year-old blind, yellow Labrador retriever fell into Lagoon Pond where he struggled to survive. He was saved from drowning thanks to the keen observation and quick response of John Dumas, an NSTAR supervisor, who was on his way home from work.

Mr. Dumas was driving home on Lagoon Pond Road just before 6 pm, when, out of the corner of his eye, he happened to spot the dog struggling in the brush along the shoreline, near Maciel Marine in Vineyard Haven. He quickly turned back, parked his truck, and ran to pull the dog from the water and mud.

“Then I noticed the dog was very awkward, and realized he couldn’t see,” Mr. Dumas told The Times in a phone call Wednesday. “He was also ice-cold.”

Mr. Dumas called the Tisbury Police Department and asked Officer Jason Marathas for help. Special Officer Michael Leccese arrived quickly.

“When I got there, the dog was lying down in the grass, with Mr. Dumas kneeling beside him,” Officer Leccese said. “He was obviously in distress. Mr. Dumas went and grabbed a sweatshirt from his truck to put over him.”

Officer Marathas also called Tisbury Animal Control Officer Laurie Clements, who arrived a few minutes later. Ms. Clements said she knew the dog, Tyger, and his owners, Barbara Lampson and Andrew Worlock, who live on Causeway Road.

Tyger also suffers from weak hind quarters, so she had to lift him into her truck to drive him home, Ms. Clements told The Times. When they arrived, Ms. Lampson’s son, Ian Tripp, who happened to be home, was startled and dismayed to learn that Tyger had wandered off, Ms. Clements said.

“He used to like to wander, and a few months ago, we think he might have had a minor stroke,” Mr. Tripp told The Times. “He went blind over the course of about three days. He hasn’t completely adjusted yet, and he has trouble moving about. I didn’t realize he had wandered into the water.”

After making sure Tyger was dry and comfortable, Mr. Tripp said he drove over to Maciel Marine to thank his dog’s rescuer in person, but no one was there. He was appreciative to learn Mr. Dumas’s name from The Times and said he would be calling him to express his family’s appreciation. Ms. Lampson, who found out about what happened after she arrived home from work, called The Times on Wednesday to say she is enormously grateful to Mr. Dumas and everyone that helped Tyger.

“I don’t know how I even happened to notice him,” Mr. Dumas said. “But I think if I hadn’t pulled him out, he wouldn’t have been able to get out on his own.”

Ms. Clements and Officer Leccese agreed.

“Tyger was so cold, and totally disoriented,” Ms. Clements said. “I know he would have died of exposure if Mr. Dumas hadn’t noticed him and rescued him.”

“The dog was off in the brush, and many people might have driven by and not even seen him,” Officer Leccese said.

Mr. Dumas modestly attributed his actions to being in the right place at the right time.

“I’m an animal lover, and I have a dog, so I would hope that anyone else would do the same for my pet,” he said.

On Wednesday afternoon, Mr. Tripp reported that Tyger was sleeping peacefully, recuperating in comfort from his frigid swim.