Man Helps Black Dog Stuck On Iceberg, Doesn’t Listen To Sailor’s Warning


Dark Waters

Andriy’s mind raced with fear. He had been warned about what inhabited these dark waters – there were superstitions that there were creatures here that lured unsuspecting sailors to their deaths. He swam closer to the dog and felt a freezing cold shiver travel up and down his back.

He reached the ice and froze when he noticed that the animal was looking directly into his eyes. That was the moment he knew that he’d just made a fatal mistake.

He Loved The Ocean

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Ever since Andriy Boykov was a little boy, he was fascinated with the ocean. He had read his father’s tattered copy of ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’ a dozen times – it was a morbid and thrilling fascination.

His love of the story aside, the old book had also helped him learn English. His mother tongue was Ukrainian, and his parents only spoke it when he was growing up. Although the English Second Language class at school was unbearably boring to him, it was ‘20,000 Leagues Under the Sea’ that sparked a lifelong obsession.

A Growing Passion

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Andriy’s fascination with the ocean had started when he was just eight, but it would stay with him for the rest of his life. He dreamed of making a job of exploring the mysteries of the frigid sea and getting paid for it.

When Andriy entered high school, his passion for the sea only intensified. When he left school, he immediately set about turning his passion into a career. He knew what he had to do.

Meeting The Requirements

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To become a sailor, Andriy had to meet strict requirements. He had to complete a tough 28-month course to earn his maritime certification, but his resolve and passion powered him on. Eventually, he passed the course with flying colors.

Once he had his license, 20-year-old Andriy was ready to find a ship and go on the adventures he’d always dreamed of. Of course, he had no idea how it all would end.

Finding Work

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It wasn’t long before Andriy was hired by a cargo company. They shipped cargo from Ukraine to China, and indeed all over the world. In the early days of his employment, he became acquainted with a weathered-looking old man named Oleksander.

Although he didn’t take what his strange crew member said too seriously, the man gave him an important piece of information. But, in time, Andriy would learn that he should have listened to the old man’s warning.

Black Water, Black Clouds

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The Black Sea is the only body of water that laps Ukraine. All ships that head out of Ukraine’s ports only have one route to get out into the Mediterranean Ocean.

Andriy and his crew members faced harsh weather in the frigid waters – indeed, the sea had gotten its name from its dark waters and the black thunderclouds that rolled and storm above. Andriy was met with a harsh reality.

Only One Option

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Aside from the dangerous storms that raged above the Black Sea, Andriy and his crew mates only had one option to enter the trade route. To get out of the Black Sea and into the Mediterranean, they had to pass through the Black Sea Strait.

Any sailor who has survived this perilous path will tell you that it’s one of the most dangerous passages in the world. But Andriy could never have anticipated a danger that didn’t come from the ocean, but rather from something he saw in the strait.

A Lonely Dog

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Andriy and his crewmates were deep in the Black Sea Strait a week into their journey. Due to all the ice that floated and blocked their path, it was slow going. But that morning, while Andriy was drinking a hot cup of coffee, he looked out onto the frozen landscape and saw something.

Andriy shouted to his crewmates: “Hey, guys! I think I see something. It looks like a dog trapped on the ice!” Oleksander was the first to arrive and squinted, trying to see the animal on the ice.


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“Andriy, are you stupid? Can’t you see it’s black?” Oleksander warned, “Have you never heard of a black dog as a bad omen? I bet that’s a Vodyanoy.” Oleksander seemed  visibly shaken as he told Andriy about the old sailor superstition.

Oleksander looked at Andriy for a second and then explained,

“From your look, I can tell you don’t know what a Vodyanoy is. It’s an evil water spirit, and it loves to drown sailors,” Oleksander explained. And he wasn’t wrong. The old Slavic folklore describes a Vodyanoy as a vengeful spirit who lures sailors to drown.

Not Listening

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Andriy couldn’t believe what he was hearing. “So what of your superstitions? That dog is going to freeze to death or starve!” he barked, “I’m going to help it by myself. Just hold my harness.”

Andriy didn’t hesitate to make good on his word. He attached his harness to the ship, climbed over the edge, and slid into the frigid black water. Thankfully, he’d always been a strong swimmer. But as he swam closer to the black dog trapped on a piece of ice, he couldn’t get what Oleksander had said out of his mind. Did he just make a huge mistake?

A Mistake

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Superstitious thoughts ran through Andriy’s mind. He had been warned about what could inhabit these waters, luring sailors into the water before they inevitably drowned. But as he swam closer to the dog on the ice, he felt a shiver climb up his back.

He froze at the edge of the fragment of ice as the animal looked directly into his eyes. That’s when he understood that he had made a huge mistake.

Not A Dog

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Andriy knew immediately that he had misidentified the dog. It was a wild dog, not the domesticated animal he assumed it was. But despite the danger, the look the wild dog gave him was one of pleading.

The animal knew that he was the only one that could save it. So Andriy gave Oleksander the signal to reel his harness in. This pulled the two to the side of the boat.

Getting The Dog On The Ship

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With a lot of effort, Andriy managed to clip the dog into his harness and have Oleksander and the other crew lift it up and onto the deck. Andriy himself could climb safely up the ladder.

Now on the deck, Oleksander seemed a little less superstitious now. “You got lucky this time. I wouldn’t tempt fate and dive into the water for every animal we see.” Andriy laughed, “That’s the difference between you and me, Olek.”

Dried Off

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The wild dog seemed complacent and docile. He even let Andriy dry him off with a towel. Even the domesticated dogs the crew had brought on the ship seemed to welcome the wild dog.

But Andriy knew he had to make a decision. He had to decide what to do with the animal. Thankfully in Ukraine and other Slavic countries, it’s not uncommon for people to domesticate wild animals.

A Strong Bond

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Andriy convinced the captain to let him keep the dog on the ship while they made the journey to other countries and eventually back home to Ukraine. The wild dog would develop a close bond with Andriy and would never leave his side.

Andriy kept him as a pet after the journey was over, and he seemed easy to train for a wild animal. To the dog, anything must have been easier than staying trapped on that piece of ice.