When animal-lover Jessie Goetze, who owns two dogs and a cat, spotted a lost dog on a beach in Australia, she was naturally worried for him. On realizing it was the same missing dog a social media post had alerted on, she launched into a daring rescue that lasted for more than three weeks.
“I just couldn’t stop thinking about him,” the mom of two told The Epoch Times. “The weather was really bad at the time—it was just coming into winter. It was very windy, it was raining, and all I could think about was this dog alone on the beach and where we live.
“We’ve got saltwater crocodiles that we need to be very, very careful of. We’ve got snakes, we’ve got ticks, we’ve got wild pigs, and it just wasn’t a safe place for him to be.”
Ms. Goetze, 42, a real estate agent and photographer, saw a Facebook alert about a lost dog—who she later named Ocean—roaming close to her home. She didn’t think much of it until the following day, March 21, when driving along Pretty Beach in Port Douglas, Queensland, she saw the dog from her car. She stopped and grabbed a yoga mat strap, intending to catch the big dog who was running down the beach in the rain.
By the time she climbed down onto the rocks, the dog was standing in the water, looking out to sea. She started whistling to get his attention. The visibly scared dog turned and took a step towards her, but a moment later, he appeared suddenly spooked and ran away fast. Ms. Goetze then returned a short time later with some food and attempted to coax him to her, but again the dog turned and fled.
Catching this canine wasn’t going to be as easy as she'd thought.
Ms. Goetze replied to the Facebook appeal confirming she’d seen the lost dog and volunteered to rescue him. A group of women experienced in dog rescues and animal welfare stepped up as mentors, and Ms. Goetze followed their advice; doing food drops at the same time each day, always wearing the same clothes imprinted with her scent, and calling the same words.
Before long, the whole community had galvanized to help find the dog.
“People were driving two hours to come to this beach to find him,” Ms. Goetze said, “either with their families or by themselves, or with their own dogs, thinking maybe the dogs would lure him out. But nobody ever saw him.”
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Easter was fast approaching, and Ms. Goetze’s worry grew. More and more people were arriving, many to party, illegally camp, and ride motorbikes on the beach, and it was clear the noise and activity would further spook an already frightened, traumatized animal. With the support of the community, she set up trail cameras. Watching the footage the day after setting the cameras up, she rejoiced.
She said: “I dropped the cameras at 5 p.m., and he was there at 10 past 5, so he‘d been watching me the whole time. And then when I got there at 7 a.m., he’d already been there 10 minutes before—I could tell that from the videos. So, I knew he was there and, by now, he was very skinny; he was just skin and bone.”
When Ms. Goetze returned at lunchtime, there was a group of people hanging around on motorbikes and evidence of drug use. Wanting to stay hidden for her own safety, Ms. Goetze went and sat amongst bushes bordering the beach. When the group left, she was about to head back to her car when she heard a noise. Looking up, she realized it was the lost dog, peeking around a bush.
“You’ve got to remember,” she said, “at that stage, I didn’t know if he was an aggressive dog. I'd had no contact with him, except for having sighted him, so I was feeling a little nervous about being there with a dog I didn’t know who was in a fight or flight state of mind.
“But when I saw him, any fear I had just melted. At that moment, I even felt that if I was going to be attacked by someone, he would actually come to my rescue.”
Seeing how scared he was, Ms. Goetze started talking in a low, gentle voice, avoiding eye contact, and turning her body away. As she threw him pieces of barbecue chicken, the large, hungry dog came closer and closer. When he saw the packet of chicken, he climbed right over his rescuer towards it, sitting across her to eat.
“As soon as I had the lead on him he was like Velcro to my side,” said Ms. Goetze, who immediately took him home.
The family instantly loved the dog. After a slow, cautious introduction to her young children, the young mixed breed—only around 1-year-old at the time—proved to have a gentle, loving nature.
Extremely underweight, Ocean needed very gentle attention and treatment. The family also enlisted the help of an “amazing dog trainer,” since Ocean not only lacked training but had suffered trauma and had behavioral issues. It took a lot of hard work, but, intelligent and a fast learner, Ocean quickly improved.
It also helped that circumstances seemed to align. The day she picked Ocean up, Ms. Goetze had just left a job and so was free to dedicate several hours a day to his training. Twelve weeks later, on the day Ocean got adopted, she started a new job.
“It was like we were meant to be together for that time,” she said, explaining that the family would have loved to keep Ocean forever, but their house was on the market and they were due to move into a two-bedroom unit without a yard.
Soon after making it known that the “loyal, protective, funny” dog was available for adoption to a person meeting certain criteria, a couple in their 50s got in touch. Outdoorsy with a big, secure yard, they had lost their last dog some years ago and were waiting for the right dog to come along before getting another.
When the couple, Irene and Michael, came to meet Ocean, they were struck by the similarities between him and their old dog. As Irene opened up about how she had experienced the loss of her dog and two precious family members within a short period, Ocean ran over and leaped up on her affectionately.
“That’s when I knew that that was the right home for him to go to,” Ms. Goetze said. “We miss him so much, but his new family have kept in contact. When it was my daughter’s birthday, one of her wishes was to see Ocean, so I called his new home and we were able to go and visit on Molly’s birthday. He remembered us, and was so excited to see us.”
It is clear to the Goetzes just how happy and content Ocean is at his forever home. For Ms. Goetze, there will always be an invisible string between her heart and his.
“I felt a connection the very first day I stopped on the side of the road,” she said. “When he was standing in the ocean, and I thought he was going to walk towards me. I think he was obviously watching me every time I went to the beach. When he did finally come up to me, it was like seeing an old friend. Somehow, I must have gained his trust. As soon as we got close, there was no more fear at all.”