Closeup on Sky. Photo: Kate Freegard
In a true act of heroism, an Australian boat captain was spared from an impending shark attack as his dog gave her life to protect him.
On a routine spearfishing trip, disaster struck off the coast of Point Samson when Franz Van Derpoll saw two sharks close in on him. A perilous situation, Van Derpoll had no way out. Thankfully for him, his faithful companion, Sky, sensed the danger and took it upon herself to protect her master - no matter what the cost. Leaping into action, Sky bravely defended her master against the seafaring predators. Sadly, while Franz managed to escape unharmed, Sky was not so lucky.
“When I came up from my second dive there was lots of blood in the water and no dog.” says Van Derpoll. “I’m 62 and I’ve had dogs all my life but she was just one of those dogs; Sky was special.”
Sky with Shanaye Freegard, Van Derpoll's granddaughter. Photo: Kate Freegard
Sky was a regular down at the harbor, known to everyone who frequented it as a bit of a legend. Before she was taken in by Van Derpoll, Sky lived at the harbor full time, and was head honcho in her own right. "She's what we call a 'crog,' which is...a dog who owns the creeks and there's only been three so far," said Van Derpoll. However, while she may have enjoyed some slight freedoms living on her own, when Franz entered the picture, things really turned around for her.
“When she first got here she was skinny and had been very ill treated,” said Global Marine manager Alex Jones. “ She took a shine to Franz and was suddenly out on the boat all the time.”
And the relationship was mutually beneficial. For Franz, who had recently lost his wife at the time of Sky’s adoption, Sky provided him with a lot of the unconditional love and attention he had lost with the passing of his wife. “Sky to me, she took Mary’s place when she passed...she was a beautiful person, if you could put a person and dog in the same category that would be Sky,” said Franz.
Devastated by the loss of his beloved companion, Van Derpoll and everyone down at the harbor have commissioned a special commemorative plaque for Sky to be installed there, so everyone for years to come will be made aware of this astonishing dog’s act of heroism.
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