Doggone Lucky


Jamaica Bay is a usual hotspot for fishing boats, the ferry and jet skis, but on Monday, July 30, something you don’t normally see was spotted bobbing up and down along the boat wakes—a dog. Luckily, due to the right people in the right place at the right time, this story has a happy ending.

It was a seemingly uneventful Monday at The Wharf, when suddenly something went awry. “I was on the phone with my wife in the back room when I saw Sheila Mac and another girl run to the end of the dock. I told my wife, something is wrong,” Bob Leckie, owner of The Wharf recalled. “I get down there and say, ‘what’s the matter?’ They said, ‘It’s a dog!’ and they pointed toward the water at this little dog being swept away by the current.”

Luckily for the dog, two angels aboard a Karen Ann charter boat were nearby. Leckie and the ladies on the dock quickly got the attention of Captain Vinnie Calabro, of Howard Beach, and Tony Ambroseccio, of Belle Harbor, as they were enjoying their day out on the water.

“We didn’t have a charter that morning, so Tony and I were just out fishing and we pass by The Wharf and see a couple of people excited on the dock,” Calabro said. “They said, ‘there’s a dog that fell in the water, he’s drifting away!’ We look up and see this little head bobbing in the water.” Without hesitation, Calabro and Ambroseccio went after the animal. “I wouldn’t even think twice about saving it. You just do it,” Calabro said.

They caught up to the dog in the water at around Beach 123rd. “By the time they rescued the dog, it had gone six blocks away with the current,” Leckie said. “We lost sight of it a couple times.” Luckily, the fishermen were able to spot it as they got closer. A wave of relief spread as onlookers watched the fishermen pull the dog out of the water, but the ordeal wasn’t over yet.

“The dog jumped right out of the boat. It was frightened and shaking,” Leckie said. The fishermen once again retrieved the panicked animal and were eventually able to bring it to safety at The Wharf’s dock. “Everybody in the restaurant stood up and clapped when the fishermen got the dog back to the dock,” Leckie said. “This was our little good deed for the day. It put a smile on everyone’s face,” Calabro said.

Following reports of a dog running around Beach Channel Drive, and later spotted in the bay, a police officer had arrived at the bayside restaurant and was on the scene to comfort the distressed pooch. “Officer Wiley held the dog in his arms while he tried to calm it down and I got my finger on the collar. The dog had a tag and we were able to contact the owner,” Leckie said.

After spending a weekend away in Pennsylvania, Peggy Sacca and her husband, Peter had just pulled into their driveway on the beach block of Beach 118th, when they received a call they weren’t expecting. “We get a call from our son, Petey and all he says to my husband is, ‘Somebody called and said one of your dogs is in the bay.’ We started freaking out,” Sacca said. Sacca’s husband ran into the house to see which of their three dogs was missing. It was Margarey, a tiny Shih Tzu that weighs just 12 pounds.

“After hearing she was in the bay, my husband grabs a towel from the laundry and we take the car over and park in Duane Reade and run over to The Wharf like crazy people. We didn’t know if she was dead or alive. We get to The Wharf and see a crowd of people and police on the dock and one of the cops is holding Margarey, wrapped up in a sweatshirt. She was in shock,” Sacca said.

However, the lucky dog’s demeanor changed immediately after spotting her human. “Once she had it in her arms, the dog started licking her face and we knew she was the owner,” Leckie said.

How did little Margarey pull off her great escape? Sacca’s children had been dog-sitting for the weekend, but were at work on Monday morning when Margarey became antsy, wondering when mom and dad would return. “Our neighbor told us that they heard her whining earlier in the day and I guess she decided to try to find us,” Sacca said. “We had just recently installed a brand new fence around our yard, after finally replacing the one we lost after Hurricane Sandy. Apparently Margarey thinks she’s a mouse with no bones because she got under an impossibly small section of the fence. The police told us that they got a report of a small dog running up and down the street. She managed to cross Rockaway Beach Boulevard, Newport and Beach Channel Drive. We were told that people were chasing her to try to catch her and she decided that she wasn’t going to get caught,” Sacca said. It is believed that the dog had jumped through an opening in the fence near Duane Reade or the 9/11 Tribute Park, which is how she wound up in Jamaica Bay. “This dog won’t even go for a grooming. She’s the hardest to manage when you give her a bath and here she is swimming in Jamaica bay,” Sacca said.

Everyone was grateful for a happy ending. “This could have gone wrong in so many ways. She was extremely lucky,” Sacca said. “I just want to thank God for every person that assisted. Thank you for not ignoring this little dog and knowing that this was a problem and acting on it. We’d be lost without her.” Sacca says they’ve since blocked the opening in their fence and will keep a close eye on their dogs. “We’re never going away without them again,” she said.

“Had those fishermen not gotten the dog, she wouldn’t have survived. It was really miraculous,” Leckie said. “God was good to that dog that day,” Calabro said.