Patrick Mulligan and his two sons, Ryan, 12, and Lucas, 9, had been out sailing all day. The day had been full of fun and family bonding. The family was on an island off of Massachusetts, when Patrick noticed their boat drifting. He jumped in the water to bring the boat back to the shore. He was not wearing a lifejacket.
Suddenly, he felt himself get caught in the current. Rather than risk it and continue swimming for the boat, he turned back to the shore, but it was too late. Patrick had begun cramping up.
The father of two told Yahoo Parenting:
“I still had 20 or 30 yards to go before I got to the island. I was looking at my kids and I started getting scared because I wasn’t making much progress. I was thinking, ‘Oh, my God, I could drown, and my kids are standing here watching and they would be stranded on the island.’”
Although Patrick’s sons were feeling desperate, they weren’t panicking. Instead, his son Ryan knew exactly how to save his dad. He sent their dog Vader to the rescue. Ryan was holding onto the two year old black Lab, who was wearing a lifevest, and said “Go save daddy.” The dog’s instincts kicked in and he swam directly to his human.
“It was like Vader did it every day, he calmly swam right in front of me and did a 180 so I could reach up and grab the handle. He didn’t even touch me. So I grabbed his lifejacket and he took me home. At first I thought I might be too heavy, but he didn’t hesitate. He didn’t even slow down.”
Patrick learned a valuable lesson that day: Always wear your lifejacket. The entire family learned exactly how amazing their dog is and Vader – Vader got a giant juicy steak as his reward for saving his dad.