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Brave Rescue Dog Leaps Into Water to Defend Her Human Friend From Sharks

Brave Rescue Dog Leaps Into Water to Defend Her Human Friend From Sharks

Sometimes one special dog touches the hearts of everyone who knows her. Sky was that kind of dog. No one was surprised, then, when she made the ultimate sacrifice to save the man who’d become her closest friend.

Sky appeared one day at Johns Creek Harbor, north of Perth, Australia. Thin and obviously abused, she began hanging around, becoming a fixture at the waterfront. She liked everyone she met but took a special shine to a man named Franz Van Derpoll.

“Everyone at the harbor knows Sky, every single person,” Van Derpoll told The West Australian. “She never left the harbor. [T]hat was her home.”  Sky and Van Derpoll soon became constant companions.

“She was with me 24/7,” he said. “If I was driving a fork lift to work she was on the fork lift. [I]f I went out on the boat doing passenger runs she was on the boat with me.”

Sky and Van Derpoll's granddaughter

Sky and Van Derpoll's granddaughter. Photo credit: Kate Freegard

Heroic Sky Takes Action to Save Her Friend

Fresh fish for dinner sounded pretty good to Van Derpoll one afternoon. As they’d undoubtedly done many times before, he and Sky set out by boat, ending up about three and a half miles away from Johns Creek Harbor. Van Derpoll began his dive, hunting for the perfect fish.

Unfortunately, something was hunting him, too.

Two sharks began circling Van Derpoll. It’s not clear how close they were or at what point Van Derpoll realized they were there, but Sky saw them. She apparently perceived a real threat to her friend. Unbeknownst to Van Derpoll, Sky flung herself out of the boat and into the water.

“She probably decided to jump over the side to protect me and when I came up from my second dive there was lots of blood in the water and no dog,” Van Derpoll told The West Australian.

As you might expect, Van Derpoll is heartbroken.

[S]ometimes I Wish It Was Me and Not Her.

Sky and Franz Van Derpoll were special friends. In the beginning, Van Derpoll rescued Sky, but after a while, said his daughter, Kate Freegard, “I feel she is the one that rescued him too.” Van Derpoll, reeling from the loss of his beloved wife, bonded with Sky in a way he didn’t expect.

“I thought I’d never love anything again after my wife died,” Van Derpoll said afterward. “Sky to me, she took Mary’s place when she passed. [S]he was a beautiful person, if you could put a person and dog in the same category that would be Sky.”

Clearly, the feeling was mutual. Without hesitation, Sky did what she felt was necessary to keep her friend safe. Her sacrifice may well have saved his life.

“You only fall in love twice in your life — once with your wife and once with a dog,” Van Derpoll said. “Nothing could ever replace her.”

Van Derpoll grieves for Sky in a way all dog lovers will understand.

“I had two good years with her in the end but sometimes I wish it was me and not her,” Van Derpoll said sadly. “I’m 62 and I’ve had dogs all my life but she was just one of those dogs; Sky was special.”

Indeed, there’s nothing like the devotion of a heroic and faithful dog. Farewell, Sky. The good men and women of Johns Creek Harbor will honor your memory with a special plaque to be installed at the harbor. You will live on in their hearts.

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Photo credit (all images): Kate Freegard

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187 comments

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5:46PM PDT on Sep 5, 2014

That is sad! What a sweet little spirit Sky was. I'm sorry for you loss Mr. Van Derpoll!

5:07AM PDT on Aug 27, 2014

Franz Van Derpoll, I am sorry for your loss!

Rest in Peace, Sky! You are missed.

6:03PM PDT on Jul 29, 2014

He should have secured his dog. The fact is sharks do not attack scuba divers and even the most dangerous stay away from humans in general, they don't see them as a food source. (those sharks circling didn't mean an attack, it's curiosity from the dead fish in the water) In very rare cases it's a case of mistaken identity when the shark thinks a human thrashing on the surface is a seal or the like. In those cases the person 99.999% of the time will only receive just a test bite and the shark just goes away. But you can count on sharks going after small animals that have fallen in off a boat or dock.

4:36PM PDT on Jun 17, 2014

Very sad. RIP Sky.

3:35AM PDT on Jun 17, 2014

What a sad story. I am sure Sky will be missed.

6:55PM PDT on Jun 15, 2014

As much as I am sure Mr. Derpoll grieves for the loss of his dog and I grieve with and for him, it would have been better judgement had he secured Sky before jumping in for fish, or not left him alone. Although I am upset for this thoughtlessness, I am trying to be somewhat empathetic because I know he is suffering, but his negligence in protecting his pet cannot be ignored. Pit bulls are extremely loyal dogs and will come to the rescue of their caretakers--esp. since they were so close. In fact, other breeds, most likely, would have done the same, esp. if sensing danger to their caretaker in an ocean infested with sharks. I assume he knows that and will continue to feel guilt.

We all do stupid things, at times, sometimes many times for which we have regret but can do nothing about, except, hopefully, to learn, as from this case, to never underestimate the intelligence and loyalty of a wonderfully brave pet friend, as well as, protect him from any potential dangers.

5:22PM PDT on Jun 15, 2014

Lost for words Very sad:(

2:13PM PDT on Jun 14, 2014

I can't imagine that :(

7:56PM PDT on Jun 12, 2014

I saw the happy photo before I read the story - what an awful sad loss. (Just loved her spotty tummy!)

1:11PM PDT on Jun 12, 2014

Wonderfully written and heartbreaking story. Thanks for sharing.

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