Meet Barney, The Miracle Dog Rescued From Ocean After Tragic Crash

Illustration for article titled Meet Barney, The Miracle Dog Rescued From Ocean After Tragic Crash

It's sometimes hard to see a bright side when something truly terrible happens, but for a bereaved Florida family the surprising return of their pet dog has helped ease the blow of a violent tragedy.


On January 7, 22-year-old Blake Talman was attempting to flee the scene of an accident in Sarasota when he lost control of his Nissan Altima at high speed. The car struck and killed Donna Chen, a mother of three who was jogging with her dog Barney, before crashing into another car and several roadside poles along State Road 758.

Talman, who later admitted he was drunk at the time, and a friend were hospitalized.


That afternoon, Rory O'Connor was paddling his kayak out into Sarasota Bay for an afternoon of fishing. His video camera, mounted on the nose of the small boat, shows him baiting some hooks until he is distracted by a splashing noise.

The small blob in the water moving towards his craft was a dog, swimming out several thousand feet from shore. Quickly pulling his line in, O'Connor reached out and pulled the terrified Vizsla into the kayak with him and headed for land.

A check of the dog's microchip ID implant proved that the small brown dog was Barney. He had been injured in the crash, but was able to run from the scene and inexplicably went swimming away from shore. The traumatized Barney is ok and has been reunited with the Chen family.

"I think a higher power lead Barney to where he needed to be because out of this horrible tragedy there is something remarkable that happened. Her puppy is alive," Chen's sister Eduardo told ABC Tampa. "We are focusing on Barney and appreciating his life and celebrating his life."


Talman faces DUI manslaughter, DUI property damage, and personal injury charges related to the incident.

(Hat tip to G2BForReal!)

Photo Credit: ABC Action News/YouTube

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When I was 9 years old, my father and I were living in Austin, Texas with my older sister after my dad had been shot in the leg by our neighbor and subsequently lost his job and we lost our home. We stayed there for a little over 5 months. One day, only a month or so in, I was walking my dog in the parking lot of the apartment complex when we both heard a dog barking. Due to the echoes, I couldn't tell exactly where the barks were coming from, but apparently Casper, my dog, could. He immediately bolted...

Right towards the main gate of the apartment complex, which exits out onto a major 6-lane business bypass.

I gave chase and just as I was getting near the gate, I heard the sound of car horns, screeching tires, and the yelp of a dog in immense pain. The first thing that came to my mind was that my dog was dead. I ran faster.

As I passed the gate, Casper rounded the corner and began pawing at my legs as dogs are prone to do. I checked him over and nothing seemed broken or hurt. He seemed perfectly fine, if a little more agitated than normal. I told him to stay, which he did, surprisingly enough, and ran out to the road to investigate.

There, between the third and second lanes, traffic flying by on either side, was a small dog, a black and white pug, laying in a crumpled heap with a small pool of blood forming underneath it. I couldn't tell if it was breathing or not.

I realize it was really unwise of me to run out into the street. I could have been hit myself, possibly killed, even. But I was 9 years old and there was a hurt puppy. Completely ignoring all the common sense in the world, I waited for a small gap in traffic and, hands up and waving the oncoming cars to slow down, I ran out into the road.

As I picked it up, it whimpered so quietly I almost couldn't hear it over the sound of cars passing by. It looked up at me with fear in its eyes and weakly tried to scrabble away, but its back legs would hardly move. It wore a dark blue collar around its neck, but there was no tag. As I hugged it close to me, I realized it was still bleeding. Feeling the blood dripping, hot and sticky, down my arms and chest, I ran as fast as I could back across the road.

I don't remember running from the road to my sister's second-floor apartment. I only remember kicking the door as hard as I could and screaming for someone to open the door, to help me. The door swung open with a rush of air and my father and my sister were standing there, fear and confusion in their eyes, wondering what the ruckus was. My sister saw the dog, but apparently all my father saw was the blood. He immediately asked what happened, was I okay, how did I get hurt, so on and so forth until I stepped forward and lifted the dog away from my chest, at which point realization dawned in his eyes.

"I think Casper wanted to play and it ran out into the road. It's hurt, daddy. Help it."

My sister arrived back with an armfull of old towels. As my father took the pug from my arms, my shirt, sticky with blood, peeled away from my chest briefly before releasing the dog and dropping back to my chest with a light slapping sound. Looking down, I realized I was covered in it. The shirt and pants were ruined. I looked like a murder victim. How could it have bled so much and still be alive?

Within seconds they were gone, car keys jingling, door left open, sister heard giving directions to the animal hospital. I was left standing there, looking down at myself. I don't know how long I stood there, just staring, but I remember seeing a single drop of blood roll off my fingertip and onto the linoleum of the entranceway. That sight broke my stupor. The tears began to flow and, sobbing, I made my way to the bathroom where I opened the shower, turned both the knobs all the way open, and stepped in.

I scrubbed and scrubbed and scrubbed for what seemed like an eternity, eventually only stopping when I couldn't cry anymore and my skin was red from scrubbing instead of red from the blood. I left the ruined, dark-stained clothes in the bottom of the tub and changed into new ones.

Then I waited. No television. No radio. I just went out onto the balcony overlooking the parking lot and waited for them to return with the bad news. Casper waited with me, lying down at my feet, uncharacteristically quiet and somber. Just like me.

It took 4 hours.

When they returned, I heard a whimper. I looked down and Casper was there, ears perked up, staring intently at the car. As my sister got out of the passenger seat, I saw her holding an armfull of fresh, clinically clean white towels, inside which was wrapped a small, no longer bloodied pug. I met them at the front door and they told me that it had been close. The vets said if they'd been a few minutes later, he wouldn't have made it. I found out I apparently had more tears in reserve. They put the pug, freshly stitched, sedated, and sleeping, down on the couch and hugged me. They told me I did a good thing.

We took care of that pug for 3 weeks. It had bladder damage that would take some time to heal, so there were a lot of messes, but we didn't mind. It was alive, and that's what mattered. We put out flyers all over our part of town to let someone know we'd found their dog. We began to wonder if maybe it was just a stray when, at the end of the 3rd week, we finally got a call.

It turns out the owners lived in the apartment complex across the street and apparently Shadow, the name of the pug, had escaped and had run across the road to play with Casper while the owner and his wife were at work and the kids at school. The father had assumed he'd run away or was dead, before seeing our flyer posted at the gas station down the street. We'd posted one at their apartment complex mail room, but apparently it had been covered or taken down, as they had never seen it there.

I will never forget the look in his eyes upon holding Shadow in his arms again. It was like we'd returned a child to its father. It made all of the fear, the blood, the messes, the Vet bills, and the stress completely worth it.

My father and I and Shadow's family are still friends to this day, even though we now live on opposite sides of the Mississippi. Our families have helped each other through some very tough times and we've shared many happy memories, all thanks to what could have very easily become a tragedy for a dog and its owner.

Seeing stories like this always remind me of Shadow and just how happy it made his family when he was returned to them, long after they'd assumed the worst. It helps me remember that there's always room for hope.