Junior spent Thursday night lounging on a pillow, too tired to move.
The nearly 12-year-old Chinese Shar-Pei and Rottweiler mix, who has arthritis and bad vision, had a long day after getting lost, stumbling into Biscayne Bay, getting rescued by a firefighter and then reunited with his owner.
“He is just completely exhausted,” his owner Jose Ruiz said. “I am just so happy to have him home.”
Ruiz said Junior — named Champ by his rescuers — usually sleeps under a tree in the backyard of their Miami Beach home. He typically doesn’t start moving until about noon. But Ruiz said he was out for his usual run when he got a call at about 10 a.m. from his father telling him that the dog was missing.
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Ruiz bolted home and frantically began searching. He walked his neighborhood and then drove it. He printed fliers and posted a picture of the dog — which he had since he was a 10-year-old-boy — on Instagram.
By that time, Junior had somehow splashed into serious trouble. Firefighter Emilio Sanchez spotted the dark-haired, collarless dog struggling in the water behind a home at 8600 Byron Ave. — about a block from his house. So he went in after him.
Sanchez helped the nearly 50-pound dog onto the bank with an assist from other firefighters. Video showing the rescue soon hit social media and the news.
Helen Trimble, who runs a pet-reuniting service in Los Angeles, spotted Ruiz’s Instagram post after it was shared and then saw news reports. She contacted Ruiz and sent him a news story on the rescued dog.
Ruiz quickly confirmed that Champ was Junior. He headed to City Hall to retrieve his tired — but safe — dog.
“I just have no idea how he got in there,” he said. “He doesn’t like water. He doesn’t even like to take a shower.”
Ruiz said his best guess is that Junior was thirsty, tried to take a drink and fell in.
And if his dip in the bay wasn’t enough water for the day, Ruiz gave Junior a shower to rinse off the salt water.
“I think he’s had enough water for a while,” he said.