'His eyes were so sad': Oil rig crew rescues a dog swimming 135 miles off Thailand
Vitisak Payalaw and his crew were working on an oil rig 135 miles off the southern coast of Thailand on Friday, April 12, when they spotted something unexpectedly bobbing in the gentle waves.
It was a dog.
The animal was fighting his way through the moving water, heading for the oil rig. As he approached the structure, Payalaw, an offshore planner for Chevron Thailand Exploration and Production, held out a pole after the animal had splashed his way to the platform below the rig's deck. As a video Payalaw posted to his Facebook account shows, the pup was soaked, shivering and too exhausted to whimper or bark.
"His eyes were so sad. He just kept looking up just like he wanted to say, 'Please help me,' " Payalaw told CNN. "At that moment, whoever saw this, they would just have to help."
The crew, however, knew it had to act fast. The waves were kicking up, meaning the dog could be swept away soon.
"I thought that if we didn't move quickly, I would not be able to help him," Payalaw said. "If he lost his grip, it would be very difficult to help him."
Four members of the crew, including Payalaw, spent 15 minutes devising a way to pull the animal up to the rig, eventually slinging a looped rope around the dog's neck and hoisting it to the deck. Pictures from the offshore planner's Facebook account show the animal looking sapped after being taken aboard the rig.
According to NPR, the rig workers gave the dog water and pieces of meat. Then, they settled on a name: "Boonrod," meaning "he has done good karma and that helps him to survive."
"He looked extremely exhausted and ran out of energy. He didn't move much," Payalaw said to CNN. "He was shaking and he couldn't stand, he had to sit all the time."
How exactly a dog ended up paddling for his life in the middle of the Gulf of Thailand remains a mystery. According to the Bangkok Post, Boonrod may have jumped or fallen off another vessel in the water.
On Monday, Boonrod was transported back to the mainland, coming ashore at Songkhla, Thailand, where he was examined by a vet, according to the Times of London.
According to Facebook pictures posted Monday by animal rights group Watchdog Thailand, when Boonrod stepped onto dry land, workers draped a garland of marigolds around his neck, a symbol of welcome and good fortune, the Times reported. The dog flashed a good-boy smile.
The dog is in good shape, the Associated Press reported.
Boonrod's happy ending story quickly went viral online. Payalaw's original Facebook post had more than 23,000 shares and 7,300 comments by early Wednesday morning.
"Three cheers to #Boonrod," one user on Twitter said. "Simply amazing - we need a story like THIS on a day like today," another posted.
Payalaw told NPR he plans to adopt Boonrod if the dog is not claimed by an owner.
This article was written by Kyle Swenson, a reporter for The Washington Post.