She was on a carefree stroll along the beach at Kleinbaai last week Thursday when she saw the white head of a Border Collie beyond the breakers.
Lucy Breytenbach saw a couple standing on the beach, but when she discovered the dog wasn’t theirs, she became worried.
She called out to the dog, but while it looked as if it was swimming towards her, it was clearly caught in the current and was just being swept further and further away.
What she didn’t know at that stage was that Slater, the Border Collie, had been hit by a car almost an hour earlier and had darted into the sea.
The exhausted dog was close to drowning.
“I was this close to jumping in myself,” says Lucy.
Instead, she ran to Eden on the Bay and asked a group of kite surfers for help, while someone else phoned the SPCA and National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI) Station 18 in Melkbosstrand.
“This wasn’t a typical call for us,” says NSRI station commander, Rhine Barnes.
“But I knew we had some crew members available who could respond to the incident.”
However, while the rescue service was preparing to send the Men’s Health Rescuer boat to Kleinbaai by trailer, Lucy was already back at the beach.
Once there she saw that Slater had managed to claw to a dangerously sharp rock outcrop.
Donovan O’Neale was joined by three of his kite surfing buddies, Byron Clarke, Luke Walker and Luke McGillewie as they rushed to the beach.
“We spotted the dog and went into the ocean towards the rocks,” says Donovan.
“Once there I took off the safety leash and attached my kite to one of the rocks. I jump over the razor sharp rocks to get to the dog, who was clearly in shock and very tired. I picked him up and then we passed him from one to the other and returned him to the beach on a paddle board.”
 Just as Slater stepped onto the beach he once abandoned in terror, the NSRI arrived on the scene.
While they waited for the SPCA to show up, NSRI volunteers tried to warm up the frightened dog.
Soon Slater, who shares a name with 11 times world surfing champion Kelly Slater, was surrounded by onlookers, who included the SPCA, but he was only searching for one person – his owner.
And then Shawn Steyn arrived.
If Slater had enough energy left one could imagine the dog forgetting his injured leg and running to Shawn’s embrace in slow motion. “He was stoked,” exclaims Shawn.
He recounted events leading up to the rescue to TygerBurger.
“I visited a friend’s house near the beach when Slater jumped over the wall. I went after him and saw him barking at someone selling stuff next to the road. As he backed into the road a car hit him and he just ran. I tried calling him back, but he would not stop!”
Shawn searched for Slater along beaches and asked many people if they saw a border collie running past. He was dropped off at Derdesteen and walked back towards Eden on the Bay, hoping to see his three-year-old friend, but to no avail.Then, in the distance, he saw the NSRI boat and the SPCA vehicle surrounded by people.
This was the reunion he was waiting for. Slater was taken to the vet and he didn’t even need any stitches.According to Shawn, his dog is a little traumatised, but nothing too serious.
“He’s lying next to me now, moaning that I’m talking to you and not playing with him,” laughed Shawn during the telephonic interview. SPCA’s Public Relations Officer Wanika Rusthoi said animals react in different ways during a crisis “because they’re all different sentient beings with their own characters”.
“Different breeds and genders also contribute to the ways in which animals express themselves. With regards to this case, the dog is a young male border collie, unsterilised, and is often taken for walks along the beach. With the trauma of this incident, it could have sent him into a state of shock, with adrenaline pumping through his veins – causing him to run. It can only be assumed that he ran toward familiar ground (the beach) and ended up in the water,” she surmises.
The story was posted on NSRI’s Facebook group and according to Barnes it has attracted thousands of hits since it was posted.