By Dave Rogers
---- — WEST NEWBURY — The reign of Duke, a golden Labrador, will likely continue for years to come after a local police officer rescued him from drowning in the Merrimack River yesterday morning.
The dog, about 5 years old, was one of many being walked by Jennifer Johnson of West Newbury along a nature trail off River Road when it decided to dip into the Merrimack River for a swim. Due to a fast-moving current and high tide, the canine drifted about 30 feet from shore before grabbing onto a rope swing with its teeth.
Concerned for the dog’s safety, Johnson called police. Officer Michael Dwyer responded to the scene and attempted to dislodge the dog from the rope using a Frisbee-like disc attached to a long rope. After several attempts, Dwyer was able to hit Duke in the head with the disc, prompting Duke to let go of the rope swing. Once dislodged from the rope, it didn’t take Dwyer long to drag Duke back to shore.
“He wouldn’t let go for the world,” a soaked Dwyer said minutes afterwards.
Dwyer estimated Duke was in the water for about 30 minutes before being pulled out. Following his rescue, Duke, seemingly none the worse for wear, rejoined his fellow dogs and raced toward a reporter walking along the trail. As a precaution, Johnson took Duke to a nearby veterinarian for a check-up, according to Dwyer.