Cattleman Rodney Castro said he discovered the border collie mix when he was driving by the waterway near Hanson Road around 8:50 a.m. He was returning from the foothills checking on his cows when he spotted the dog in the water.
“I go ahead and check (the water) all the time,” he said. “I was happy he wasn’t further down where I wouldn’t see him.”
Castro said he drove to fire Station 94 on Hanson Road and sought the help of Tracy Fire Department Capt. Jim Haskell and Engineer Lisa Bachar. Castro directed them to the channel and together found the dog clinging to the aqueduct wall 40 to 50 feet from the Hanson Road bridge.
Haskell said they lowered a ladder to the edge of the water using ropes. However, the dog climbed a little way out with hesitation, possibly out of fear, Haskell said, and slipped back into the water.
Haskell said it wasn’t until Bachar used pieces of a cereal bar that the dog was coaxed close enough to rescue.
“You could see he was pretty scared, and I had to gain his trust,” Bachar said.
Haskell said the canine didn’t have much hope for escape on its own.
“No way the dog was getting out (without assistance),” Haskell said, estimating that the dog was in the water for more than an hour.
Once the dog was pulled to safety, the firefighters dried him with towels and brought him to the fire station. Bachar said she fed the underweight dog pieces of chicken, which he gobbled up.
“He was a little skittish,” she said. “It was really cold in there, and he was shaking. Once he started warming up to us, I was feeding him and he was real gentle eating. I think he’s somebody’s pet.”
Firefighters contacted animal rescuer Kim Gray, who took the dog to Jules Veterinary Center on West 11th Street for a medical checkup. The dog was found to be about a year old and in good health.
Gray said he was without tags, collar or identifying microchip, so the dog — later renamed Hooper, a mix of Haskell’s last name and Bachar’s maiden name, Cooper — will likely go up for adoption if the owner does not come forward.
Gray said her group, Animal Rescue of Tracy, has taken the dog into foster care until a permanent home can be found.
“I’m sure there is a wonderful family out there that is willing to take him,” she said.
For information on Hooper, call Gray at 609-8220 or Animal Rescue of Tracy at 642-4324.