Tom Walsh was wearing his earbuds and walking past Quarter Mile Pond in Stoneham, Massachusetts, when his 5-year-old German shepherd, Diesel, started barking. Walsh stopped walking and discovered what had gotten Diesel so worked up: a young man calling for help from the middle of the icy pond.
The man had been riding his bike when he fell into the pond and got stuck. Walsh called 911, and in the meantime, he did what he could to extricate the man from the perilous situation.
“I told him to try to relax, catch your breath because he was panicking, you know what I mean,” Walsh told Boston 25 News. “My instinct was to go in and help him, I’m a great swimmer but you can’t do that in the wintertime.”
Luckily, another man soon walked by as well, and together, he and Walsh pulled the struggling man out of the water with the aid of a tree branch. First responders arrived on the scene and took the man to the hospital, where he was treated for minor injuries.
Although he and the other bystander were the ones who physically pulled the 22-year-old out of the water, Walsh says all the credit goes to Diesel, the real hero of the day.
“He’s the hero today because without him seeing or hearing, I would have just kept walking,” he said.
Because Walsh was wearing earbuds at the time, he wouldn’t have heard the man’s cries for help if it weren’t for Diesel’s barking.
“We are grateful for this outcome and for Diesel alerting his owner that something was wrong,” Stoneham Fire & Rescue Chief Matthew Grafton said in a statement.
“The two men who helped the patient get to shore did the right thing by calling 911 immediately and using a branch to help pull him in rather than trying to get in the water themselves. These actions helped to save a man’s life this afternoon and are nothing short of heroic.”