James White still has the marks on his leg from where the shark bit him three weeks ago.
It seems only fair.
That shark probably still has marks on its tail from where White’s dog, Darby, bit it.
It is a fish tale White swears is true. “The first time I told somebody this, they were like, ‘You’re out of your mind, there’s no way that happened’,” he said. “Then I showed him the pictures and I’m like, ‘No it absolutely happened’.”
On July 21st, White, from Rohnert Park, was fishing from shore in Bodega Bay in Sonoma County, California. Because he was close to traffic, White left Darby, his 1-year-old, 100-pound pitbull, in his car parked a few yards away.
After a while, White felt a strong tug on his line. He struggled to reel in whatever was on the end of it. “It was about 10 minutes,” he said. “The only way I think I was able to get the line back is because it was swimming towards me.”
Only when he got it into shallow water did White see what he had hooked: a 6-foot, sevengill shark. White went to remove the hook from the shark when it twisted, fell to the ground, and sank its teeth into White’s ankle.
“Immediately there was blood everywhere, the first bite punctured an artery,” he said. “The pressure was intense."
As hard has White tried, he couldn’t get the shark to release. He yelled to some fisherman a few hundred yards away for help but before they could get to him someone else did: Darby.
After hearing White yell and struggle, the dog managed to open one of the car doors and race down a short hill to his owner.
Darby launched himself at the shark and bit into the shark’s gills, causing the shark to sink its teeth even deeper into White.
“And I told him, ‘No back off’ and then [Darby] repositioned and grabbed it by the tail,” said White . “He literally ran up the hill with it and pulled it off my leg.”
White tossed the shark back into the water and it swam away.
White doesn’t know how he would have gotten the shark to release were it not for Darby. He says the dog definitely saved his leg from more damage, possibly severing the artery it had already punctured.
White says he couldn’t be prouder of Darby. He says he is such a affectionate, playful dog (Darby’s nickname is “House Hippo”) he didn’t know he was capable or sprining into action like he did. White is eternally grateful he did.
“He’s been a part of the family from day one. Just now a little more. If it wasn’t for him I would have been a lot worse.”