updated 10/23/2006 9:52:53 PM ET 2006-10-24T01:52:53

Ray Truche Jr. and Lisa Largrassa fished for hours and didn't catch anything — except a drowning dog. Motoring their 23-foot fishing boat earlier this month on Florida Bay, the two hit something unusual and turned around to check.

"As we came back upon it, I realized it was a little fat dog," said Truche, of Manchester, Mass. "It was having trouble keeping its head above water. Its big eyes were looking at us. It was almost as if it was saying, 'Don't leave me here!'"

The couple leaned over the boat and made their only catch of the day: a 5-year-old cairn terrier named Tigger, The Key West Citizen reported Monday.

Tigger was apparently thrown from Diane and Richard Beckman's boat on their way from Key Largo to Marathon.

The Beckmans searched frantically for 2 1/2 hours with no sign of the dog.

"We went back and forth, back and forth," Diane said. "Finally we just gave up, because we thought he couldn't have survived in the water for that long. I was just heartbroken. "

Since there was no answer at the home listed on Tigger's tag, Truche and Largrassa dropped him off at the Upper Keys Animal Shelter.

Diane was elated when she got home and listened to her messages. She went quickly to pick up Tigger.

"He didn't know me. He was so terrified. As soon as he realized it was me, he jumped in my arms and wouldn't let go," she said.

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