CHICAGO — A woman is praising a young couple from Illinois after they helped rescue her dog from Lake Michigan.
Janet Bedin said she was walking north toward Navy Pier Sunday evening with her dog, 14-year-old Little Moses, when he slipped off a pier near the Chicago Yacht Club after jumping to snatch carrots she had brought for him.
Little Moses, who is overweight and suffers from cataracts and a collapsing trachea, struggled at first to reach the surface to breath. Close to Bedin were an Elgin couple, Anthony Harms, 18, and Gladys Vilchiz, 20, who were out taking pictures on a rare visit to Chicago.
Bedin prepared to jump in the water herself, but was stopped by Harms and Vilchiz, who had other ideas.
“Three seconds after passing her by she screams and we heard a big splash,” recalled Vilchiz, a sophomore at Elgin Community College. Vilchiz remembered thinking, “We can’t have an animal and a person in the water.”
She consoled Bedin and persuaded her to stay on the pier as Harms called out toward the dog. The others joined in, and as the calls got more pronounced Little Moses fought harder to stay afloat and paddled toward the shore, following their voices.
"He (Little Moses) was really chubby and very small, but he was really courageous,” Vilchiz said.
When Little Moses inched closer, Harms extended his body and lurched into the water to snag the dog.
"Anthony and Gladys directed the entire rescue and the key was their anticipation and to back me off of jumping in," said Bedin in an email to WGN-TV.
Vilchiz, who has two dogs of her own, Nala and Pulgoso, said the incident proved just as much about the dog as it did her and Harms.
"He was very brave and courageous, even for 14-year-old,” Vilchiz said.
Bedin said the story of Little Moses is a "lesson in empowering the elderly."
"Moses was to be euthanized before we rescued him in Rockford," Bedin wrote, "but he is a survivor and who is to say he should have been put down a couple of years ago?"
The dog's survival story came just a few weeks after Bedin had him blessed on Easter at Holy Name Cathedral, and after the rescue, she dubbed Vilchiz and Harms Little Moses's new godparents.
“We’ve been talking to her (Bedin) every day since the incident, she’s been calling me, telling me what Moses has been doing,” Vilchiz said. "I've never felt more appreciated."
Little Moses is now back home, "raggedy but alive," said Bedin. "Thank God."