An elderly dog jumped into its owner’s arms after being saved from a Florida lagoon by a hero firefighter.
In a video of their reunion, Junior, a 12-year-old Chinese Shar-Pei and Rottweiler mix with arthritis and poor vision, walked up to his owner, Jose Ruiz, and buried his head in his chest.
“You okay, buddy?" Ruiz says in the video, before gently chiding him for running away: "Don’t do that anymore."
He said Junior, who he's had since he was 10, sleeps under a tree in their backyard and usually doesn’t get up until noon.
But on Thursday, as Ruiz was heading out for his morning run, he was told his beloved pet had run off.
That’s when firefighter Emilio Sanchez of the Miami Beach Fire Department spotted a dog that had fallen into the Biscayne Bay about a block away from Ruiz’s home.
Sanchez immediately threw off his shirt and jumped in.
“I could tell his head was starting to submerge under water. He was having a hard time keeping himself afloat,” Sanchez told Inside Edition. “We don’t know how long he had been swimming in the water for but based on that information, it looked like we got there just at the perfect time.”
Sanchez immediately offered the 50-pound dog a shoulder, which he happily took. Riding on the firefighter’s back, Junior was slowly taken back to safety.
“The dog seemed pretty exhausted,” he recalled. “He nicked me right here on the cheek a little bit, him trying to climb onto my shoulder but it’s all part of the job.”
He put Junior on dry land to rest and brought him water. About 30 minutes later, Junior was ready to get up and walk around again.
With a little help from social media and community leaders, Ruiz was instructed to meet his dog at City Hall.
“I didn't expect this to happen to my dog. I'm just so grateful he was there to rescue him,” Ruiz said of Sanchez. “I’m speechless to see that there are still good people left in the world.”