Little dog Bella followed sailor Tim Shaddock wherever he went.
When he tried to find her a home in Mexico, she repeatedly refused to leave his side.
She chose Tim as her owner – and the sailor followed her.
“Bella somehow found me in the middle of Mexico,” he said. “She wouldn’t let me go.” I tried three times to find her a home and she just kept following me to the water.’
Earlier this week, the couple were miraculously rescued after spending three months together in the Pacific Ocean, surviving by “eating a lot of sushi” and “drinking rainwater.”
Even after they were rescued, Bella didn’t want to leave Tim’s boat until he was driven away.
It’s all the more heartbreaking that they can no longer be together.
Tim, an Australian citizen, returns to his home country to spend time with friends and family after meeting Tom Hanks in real life on Cast Away.
The 54-year-old leaves his beloved pooch in the capable hands of one of the crew aboard the tuna trawler Marie Delia, who came to his rescue.
He chose Genaro Rosales to adopt Bella on the condition that he would take good care of her.
His decision was also likely somewhat forced on him due to the complex, rigorous and costly nature of the process required to bring pets into Australia.
Dogs must be vaccinated, microchipped and undergo a quarantine period before being allowed full entry into the country from ‘approved countries’.
Unfortunately, Mexico is not on Australia’s list of approved countries for importing pets, making it even more difficult to bring Bella with you.
After they were taken to safety, Tim described Bella, who was immediately well received by the boat crew, as “amazing” and said, “She’s a lot braver than me, that’s for sure.”
When asked how Bella was, he replied, “This dog is different.” She is a beautiful animal. I’m just thankful that she’s alive.’
Professor Mike Tipton, an expert in marine survival, also said that having his mate by his side may have made the difference between life and death.
He told The Sun: “They live a lot of day-to-day life.” “You have to have a very positive mental attitude to go through that kind of ordeal and not give up.”
Tim admitted he “didn’t think he could do it” when his catamaran was badly damaged by adverse weather just weeks after the 3,700-mile voyage from La Paz on Mexico’s Baja Peninsula west to French Polynesia.
Although he was well taken care of, the storm had left him with no power, no navigation systems, and no ability to cook, meaning he and Bella lived on raw fish.
The last time he saw land was in early May, sailing out of the Gulf of California into the Pacific under a full moon.
Almost three months after departing, the fishing boat Marie Delia’s helicopter spotted its catamaran by sheer luck some 1,200 miles offshore.
The pilot poured him a drink, then flew away and later returned from the trawler in a speedboat.
Emotional footage captured the incredible moment as Tim and his dog Bella, who was wagging her tail excitedly, were incredibly relieved to discover they had been rescued.
Grupomar, operator of the fishing fleet, said both Tim and his dog were in a “poor” condition when they were found, lacking provisions and shelter.
It also said the crew gave them medical attention, food and hydration before they were taken to the city of Manazillo, Mexico.
Tim said, “What do you think of the captain and this fishing company that saved my life?” I’m just so grateful. I’m alive and didn’t really think I would make it.
“I feel really good.” I had problems – my health was pretty bad for a while. I was pretty hungry and didn’t think I would weather the storm.
“But I’m really fine now.”
Tim spent the time at sea fixing things and staying positive by going into the sea to “just enjoy the water”.
He added: “I enjoyed being at sea, I enjoyed being out there.” But when it gets tough out there, you have to survive. And then when you’re saved, you feel a desire to live, so I’m very grateful.”
Antonio Suarez, President of Grupomar, said this could be the Maria Delia’s last voyage as he is modernizing the company’s fleet and the boat is the smallest, being more than 50 years old.
If so, it would be a “wonderful farewell that saves lives,” Mr Suarez said.
In February, a man identified as Elvis Francois was rescued by the Colombian Navy after being stranded on a sailboat in the Caribbean for 24 days.
Last year, a Brazilian gardener named Nelson Nedy was found on a deserted island after living on two lemons and charcoal for five days.
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