2013-01-17 / Front Page

Owner saves dog that fell through ice in Sayreville

Bob Motyka had to pull himself out of icy water after saving his ‘best friend’
Staff Writer

Bob Motyka (r) and Bones Bob Motyka (r) and Bones SAYREVILLE — What started out as a normal morning walk for Bob Motyka and his dog, Bones, turned into a near-fatal disaster for both of them.

Motyka, originally from Bridgewater, was in the borough on Jan. 9 visiting family when he took his 4-and-a-half-year-old English pointer pup for a walk through Sayreville’s dog park. There, he met a woman, who he only knows as “Rosanna,” and her dog.

“Rosanna told me about a place at the dog park that would be great to take our dogs to,” Motyka told the Suburban.

At the no-leash dog park off Bordentown Avenue in the Julian Capik Nature Preserve, Motyka let Bones off his leash to chase after geese in the area.

“He’s a pointer, so he fights to go point at the birds,” Motyka said.

However, a wrong turn for Bones put him out on the ice, about 80 yards away from the shoreline where Motyka, Rosanna and her dog stood helpless, knowing that Bones would soon go plunging through the ice.

“I called for him, and he began to come back to shore, but then he fell right through the ice,” Motyka said. “I was freaking out while I called him and yelled for him.”

Motyka watched Bones struggle for a few minutes before deciding to risk his own life to save the dog he calls his “best friend.”

“He kept trying to come out, and he gave me a look like he couldn’t do it anymore,” Motyka said. “I crawled out there and tried to disperse my weight. I knew I was going to go through, but I managed to get 2 feet from him. I reached out, and that’s when I went through.”

Motyka spent 12 cold minutes in the icy water, looking for a way to get him and Bones back onto dry land.

“Rosanna was frantic, Bones was hanging onto me, and every time I tried to crawl out, the ice would break underneath me,” Motyka said.

Rosanna told Motyka to push Bones out from the ice, and he did so, going under while pushing Bones to safety. Bones ran to shore while Rosanna’s dog tried desperately to get onto the ice to help Motyka.

“He knew that I was in trouble — he’s so smart,” Motyka said.

Meanwhile, Motyka began frantically looking for his own way out of the icy water. He did not want Rosanna to venture out on her own to help him, so she called 911 while he recalled training on how to survive falling through the ice.

“I tried 20 times to get out of that water, and the ice would break off each time,” Motyka said. “I was starting to panic, but I remembered from Coast Guard classes that I should roll up in a ball and take time to think. I rolled up in a ball and instantly felt warmer.”

After taking a moment to calm himself down, Motyka flung one leg and both arms out of the gap in the ice, and pulled himself onto the ice.

“I rolled off as I got out, and rolled like a log away from the hole,” Motyka said. “About halfway to shore, I laid on the ice, thanking God, and that’s when the police came from every direction.”

Motyka and Bones emerged from the water cold but unharmed. Officers questioned Motyka’s activities on the ice, and he simply explained that he went out to save his best friend.

“Bones is like my son,” Motyka said. “There was no way I was going to leave him there. The officers thought I was hanging out on the ice with the dog, or something stupid like that. When I told him the story, an officer told me that he would have done the same thing.”

Speaking about the event one week later, Motyka recalled that the day he fell in the ice was just two days after two teenagers from Budd Lake died while ice-fishing, once again bringing to light the dangers of — literally — treading on thin ice.

“I was telling somebody that I’ll donate a stand and a rope and a life preserver,” Motyka said. “[I’d] hate to see this happen to anybody else.”

The lengths that Motyka went to only further demonstrate the strong bond that many people have with their pets, and show how having a pet can bring people together in the way that Rosanna met Motyka that morning.

“She thought she was going to watch us die,” Motyka said. “I’m going to find her before I get back [to work] to thank her. I only knew her for half an hour that morning. I just want to give her a hug and let her know that I know she went through hell standing here.”

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