A mischievous black Lab-mix with a natural curiosity for ducks survived a harrowing 15 minutes of frigid water — and fame — after she fell through the ice on a Denver lake.
"Pearl," who is about 14 months old and has all the energy in the world to prove it, owes her life to the Denver Fire Department dive team, which responded quickly to the scene and plucked the water-logged pooch from the icy lake, the pet's owner, Wanda Padilla, told TODAY on Wednesday.
"Her leash is not real strong. She slipped her leash," explained Padilla, who was interviewed by TODAY anchor Ann Curry on the morning after the incident. "There were ducks there and she took off after the ducks."
Pearl darted for the middle of the lake, and Padilla began going after her, but quickly realized that might be a mistake.
"I went out about 25 feet and the ice went cracccccccccccccck!" the dog owner recalled. "I went back to the shore."
As a hovering news helicopter captured Pearl's desperate attempts to scramble back up on the ice, someone called the Denver Fire Department. All Padilla could do was wait.
"They said just be calm and be patient. And I tried," she said.
Joyous reunionWithin 15 minutes, the fire department's dive team arrived and firefighter Tony Padilla (no relation to Pearl’s owner) suited up to go out on the ice. As he neared the dog, the ice below his feet gave way and he ended up in the water as well.
Padilla, with the help of other firefighters, got Pearl and himself to safety. Cameras captured the joyous reunion of dog and owner.
"There was no risk. We had the training," Tony Padilla said Wednesday, downplaying the rescue as just another day at work. "We train on it all the time. We knew exactly how it would go down."
For Wanda Padilla, however, the episode was nerve-wracking. She's grateful to the firefighters, and just happy to have her dog back.
"Pearl's our life," Wanda Padilla said. "She's a really great dog. She's a sweetheart."
— John Springer for TODAYshow.com