MIAMI BEACH — Junior spent Thursday night lounging on a pillow, too tired to move.
The nearly 12-year-old Chinese Shar-Pei and Rottweiler mix, who has arthritis and bad vision, had a long day after getting lost, stumbling into Biscayne Bay, getting rescued by a firefighter and then reunited with his owner.
"He is just completely exhausted," his owner Jose Ruiz said. "I am just so happy to have him home."
Ruiz said Junior — named Champ by his rescuers — usually sleeps under a tree in the back yard of their Miami Beach home. He typically doesn't start moving until about noon. But Ruiz said he was out for his usual run when he got a call about 10 a.m. from his father telling him that the dog was missing.
Ruiz bolted home and frantically began searching. He walked his neighborhood and then drove it. He printed fliers and posted a picture of the dog — which he had since he was a 10-year-old-boy — on Instagram.
By that time, Junior had somehow splashed into serious trouble. Firefighter Emilio Sanchez spotted the dark-haired, collarless dog struggling in the water about a block from his house. So he went in after him.
Sanchez helped the nearly 50-pound dog onto the bank with an assist from other firefighters. Video showing the rescue soon hit social media and the news.
Helen Trimble, who runs a pet-reuniting service in Los Angeles, spotted Ruiz's Instagram post after it was shared and then saw news reports. She contacted Ruiz and sent him a news story on the rescued dog.
Ruiz quickly confirmed that Champ was Junior. He headed to City Hall to retrieve his tired — but safe — dog.
"I just have no idea how he got in there," he said. "He doesn't like water. He doesn't even like to take a shower."
Ruiz said his best guess is that Junior was thirsty, tried to take a drink and fell in.
And if his dip in the bay wasn't enough water for the day, Ruiz gave Junior a shower to rinse off the salt water.
"I think he's had enough water for a while," he said.