Image: A lonely dog is seen floating on ice floe 15 miles off the Polish Baltic Sea coast
Ryszard Moroz  /  AP
'Baltic' the dog pictured Monday floating on an ice floe 15 miles off the Polish coast near Gdynia.
updated 1/29/2010 11:50:16 AM ET 2010-01-29T16:50:16

A dog rescued from the Baltic Sea after braving a 75-mile journey on an ice floe has joined the crew of the Polish research ship which saved him, the captain said Friday.

Jerzy Wosachlo, the captain of the Baltica, said the dog slept on a blanket in the ship's laboratory, then shared a sausage breakfast with the crew.

He said the dog often sticks close to the mechanic who saved him but also has started moving around as he pleases, enjoying the company of people.

"We have enrolled him as a crew member," Wosachlo said.

Nicknamed "Baltic," the friendly dog will continue in that capacity unless his owner is found, the captain said.

A new mission
The ship is preparing to sail Feb. 10 on a brief mission — with the dog, unless he is afraid, Wosachlo said.

With the ship in the port of Gdynia on Friday, the black-and-brown mongrel was occasionally taken on land for walks, he said.

The Sea Fishing Institute that owns the ship sent a bowl and a squeaking toy, and the scientists on board brought dog food. And Wosachlo was receiving numerous calls from people offering money to feed the dog or wanting to adopting him.

Claims of ownership
After news of the dog's rescue broke, four people called saying he was theirs. But the dog kept his distance from the first two, showing no recognition. Two other putative owners who had planned to come for the dog Friday canceled, Wosachlo said.

President Lech Kaczynski, himself a dog owner, sent the crew a letter praising its action in saving the dog's life.

"Such gestures make our world a better one," Kaczynski wrote.

The dog was first seen Saturday on the Vistula River, 60 miles (100 kilometers) inland, drifting on a piece of ice past the city of Grudziadz. Local firefighters said they failed to save him then.

He was spotted again Monday, 15 miles (24 kilometers) from land in the Baltic Sea, when he was rescued by the Baltica's crew.

The rescue was difficult because the dog kept falling into the water. Fearing he could drown, the crew lowered a pontoon to the water and the mechanic, Adam Buczynski, managed to grab the dog by the scruff of the neck and pull him to safety.

In port, the 44-pound (20-kilogram) dog was taken to a veterinarian, who found him in surprisingly good condition and estimated he was 5 or 6 years old.

The veterinarian, Aleksandra Lawniczak, said a dog with thick fur and a layer of fat can survive cold conditions for as long as eight days if it has water to drink.

Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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