It’s relatively common that we hear of people falling through thin ice trying to rescue their dogs, but we rarely hear about it happening in Central Park, New York City.
But that’s what happened on Sunday on the Harlem Meer, which is located on the northeast corner of Central Park. Katalin Levay, a professional dog walker, was walking five dogs — one being her own: Taz, a seven-month-old Hungarian Pumi sheepherding dog, according to a story in the New York Daily News.
Taz, ever ready to herd something, anything, got away from Levay and darted after some birds. Trouble was, the birds were on the frozen Harlem Meer.
“There were birds on the ice, he was chasing them,” she told the Daily News. “He was way out there. Nobody could’ve reached him.”
Levay gave the other dogs her “stay” command, pointedly ignored the “Danger: Thin Ice” signs on the fence, and went after her beloved dog.
“It didn’t occur to me to do anything different,” she said. “I couldn’t watch him die.”
Taz was nearly at the other side of the meer, and Levay charged after him. Then, well, you know: “I had him and boom! We fell in.”
And so the freezing ordeal began. They struggled to swim to the shore.
“It felt like forever,” she said of how long she was in the water. “I managed to swim with water filling my boots, him under my arm and paddling.”
“I’m responsible for this little creature and he was losing steam, paddling in one place and not being able to get back on the ice,” she said. “I can’t watch him die.”
Finally, someone threw them a life preserver, and she was able to hoist her dog onto the shore. The pair hustled into a waiting ambulance and headed to the hospital. Fortunately, Levay and Taz are fine.
Levay told the Daily News she has no regrets — except that next time she would trying running around the lake first.
As for the other dogs under the stay command: “They listened,” Levay told the New York Post. “They were told to stay and I left my backpack right there. Also they are very nice friendly dogs so whoever went to get them I knew they would not cause them any harm.”
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