Corgi Braves Shark and Gator Filled Waters to Reunite With Owner

A man has been reunited with his 1-year-old corgi that jumped overboard.

Jon Atwood, who's from the Colorado area, told Newsweek that he flew to Florida to help his mother and stepfather guide their 65-foot houseboat to North Carolina.

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Jessica, a 1-year-old corgi, was successfully located after jumping off a boat in the Indian River in Florida on Sunday. Jon Atwood

At about 10 a.m. March 13, the trio began motoring north to their destination, navigating through the 121-mile long Indian River, which stretches into the Atlantic Intercoastal Waterway.

All was fine on the boat, as Atwood and his "little shadow" corgi, Jessica, relaxed and took selfies together during the relaxing jaunt. But after about six hours, Jessica disappeared.

"She got off of my lap and I assumed she went downstairs like she had all day," Atwood said. "I didn't think anything of it."

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Jon Atwood and his corgi, Jessica, pose on a boat heading from Florida to North Carolina. This photo was taken prior to Jessica jumping ship. Jon Atwood

At about the same time, he and his stepfather saw dolphins in the wake. It soon became apparent that Jessica—who turned a year old just last week—was no longer on the boat, prompting all three passengers to scour the vicinity for any clues.

"She had never been in the water," Atwood said. "It was absolute panic, terror, worst-case scenario going on in my head. My mom's trying to calm me down."

Atwood and his stepfather each boarded a dingy and made their way into Indian River, continuing to search all over for Jessica until after dark. There was no sign of her.

They returned to the boat, where Atwood's mother, Darlene, had anchored. Darlene posted on social media to spread the word about Jessica's disappearance, including on the Merritt Island National Wildlife Refuge Photography Facebook page.

That post was eventually shared over 1,800 times.

"I didn't sleep that night," Atwood said, adding that an apparent scammer "strung him along" between about 2 a.m. and 4:30 a.m. regarding Jessica's whereabouts. He knew it was a fake when the unknown individual requested a PayPal deposit.

At about 6 a.m., another Florida resident contacted him and informed him that he spent four hours searching the shoreline in the vicinity of where Jessica disappeared. There was still no luck.

Once daylight hit, Atwood went and got flyers printed with a photo of Jessica, her description, contact information, and her most recent whereabouts likely near Rockledge.

At approximately 6 p.m. that evening, or 26 hours after Jessica went missing, a man named Casey called Jon informing him that Jessica swam to his shoreline and was discovered in his backyard. The man was reportedly tipped off about the missing corgi by someone he knew who had seen the Facebook post.

Atwood shared his text chain with Casey with Newsweek. Each sent photos back and forth of Jessica to prove it was the right dog. Casey said he fed and bathed her, calling her "a little diva" that enjoyed playing with his other dog, a husky.

Casey ended up driving about 20 minutes or so to return Jessica to Atwood, or about 7 miles away. When Atwood offered him a reward, he declined and went on his way.

"The stars really aligned on getting her back to me," Atwood said.

It's estimated that Jessica swam somewhere between 1,500-3,000 feet to safety. The Indian River has alligators, bull sharks and other aquatic life that could have posed dangers for the small canine.

She did not have a dog tag on at the time she jumped overboard, nor did she have a GPS collar on. Atwood said the collar was charging at the time of her disappearance.

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Atwood is reunited with Jessica after over 26 hours, with his mother, Darlene, watching the scene. Jon Atwood

Atwood said he experienced a roller coaster of emotions. Just three weeks ago, his relationship of five years ended, and he said Jessica had "just kind of been my rock dealing with the emotional fallout."

He bred her and raised her since birth, so getting her back was more than a relief.

"It was potentially gonna end me if I was going to lose her to something like that," he said. "It was a flood of emotions; I started sobbing when he handed her to me."

Recently, another corgi owner posted a video about her dog swimming and nearly getting washed away in a scene described as both comical and frantic. And in January, another corgi owner posted a video about their dog growing out of its napping spot which was viewed over 20 million times.

The breed can even play some hoops, as evidenced by another video viewed tens of millions of times.