Derry Firefighters Rescue Dog From Icy Pond Waters

Man’s best friend has some new best friends after a daring water rescue last week.

Zeus, a Blue Heeler belonging to Bernadette Trafton, ventured out onto the ice on a small pond near her brother and sister-in-law’s Sheldon Road home, according to Derry Firefighter/Paramedic Jay Case.

Trafton said she had let Zeus out to play and she was in her sister-in-law Dana Trafton’s home office. Dana Trafton is a T-shirt designer and Bernadette Trafton was helping her.

“We heard a screech,” Trafton recalled, “and I said, ‘What’s that noise?’ Then Dana said, ‘He’s in the water!’”

Trafton had her phone with her as they ran down to the pond, and she called 9-1-1.

Trafton tried to reach Zeus, holding out a stick, but “he wasn’t having any of it,” she said. But she did manage to convince him to grab some branches, and that was how he kept himself above the water.

Case said the call came in from the Traftons at 9:40 a.m. Tuesday, March 1. He, Firefighter Tom Small and Lieutenant Mike Lavallee headed up to the site. Once at the pond, Case donned ice rescue gear.

Lavallee assessed the scene and Small brought a rope, Case said.

They found Zeus chest deep in water, standing on a branch, with ice around the hole where he’d broken through. “He was very frightened, cold, shivering,” Case said. “That was the first time I’ve ever seen a dog’s teeth chatter.”

With his colleagues holding the rope, Case crawled out on the ice and lifted Zeus. But Zeus was frightened and fought him, Case said. “I had to be really careful. He wasn’t happy, he was scared.”

Case requested a leash and his colleagues tossed one out to him. He managed to secure Zeus with the leash and began to haul him back in. “He tried to grab me again and he went under water,” Case said. But the firefighter was able to haul the dog out again.

Once on shore, Zeus was fine, according to Case, who added, “He was a little cold.”

Trafton had her phone with her, so she was able to capture the whole thing on video. “I figured, why not? I’m a big supporter of the Derry Fire Department, and I wanted to make sure they got the press.”

She was a little surprised when the video went viral, and even more so when Fox 25, Channel Nine and NH1 wanted coverage. “We had 36,000 views,” she said of the video.

Zeus is “doing a lot better,” Trafton said on Thursday, March 3. “He’s all warmed up. When they first pulled him out, his teeth chattered for an hour.” He also didn’t want to leave her side for a while, she said.

Case and other members of the Fire Department are happy they were able to retrieve Zeus and reunite him with his owner. But they warn residents, “If your pet is stuck on the ice, don’t go get them. Call the Fire Department.”