Q&A: The boater who helped rescue a puppy on the bay

Name: Adam Cohen

Age: 55

City: Berkeley

Claim to fame: Helped rescue a puppy from the bay

Job: Vice president of product and engineering at Pearl.com

J.: You made the news last month for helping to rescue a dog out of the bay. But your unique commute — via inflatable motorboat — also caught our eye. When and how did that come about?

Adam Cohen:  I joined Pearl.com 4-1/2 years ago, and I was driving out to the Presidio from Berkeley, which was a pretty obnoxious drive. I said, “I’ve got to figure out another commute,” and I’m a sailor by nature, but sailing goes pretty slowly. So I did some research and decided on a motorboat, a 22-foot-long Raider Aquapro, and got slips from the Berkeley Marina and the San Francisco Marina.


Adam Cohen

J.: How long does the trip take you?

AC: It’s about an 18-minute boat ride and a 25-minute walk. It was kind of a choice at one point between getting a new car and getting the boat, but I made the right choice. It’s so much better than driving. I can go home right at 5:30 p.m. and there’s no traffic. I like to tell people I’m forced to have fun twice a day whether I like it or not.

J.:  Tell us about the dog-rescuing adventure.

AC: I was coming home on a Monday evening (Aug. 12) with a co-worker, and all these windsurfers started flagging me down, waving. The water was pretty rough, but eventually we got close enough to talk, and they say, “We found a dog.” It didn’t seem possible. We were three miles west of the Berkeley harbor and about three-quarters of a mile north of Treasure Island, not close to anything.

J.: And you managed to get the dog on the boat?

AC: It took a while to maneuver, but eventually we did. She was clearly in shock. She had these big eyes and just kind of clunked down on the floor, and her skin was cold to the touch. She had a collar, but no tags. When we got to Berkeley, I called the animal shelter, which was already closed, and there didn’t seem to be an emergency number. So then I called my wife, Lisa, and asked if I should just bring her home and we could take her to the shelter tomorrow, and Lisa said, “Of course.”

So we got her home, put her under a blanket with some hot water bottles to warm her up, and tried to give her some food and water, but she mostly just wanted to sleep.


Sheba Lucky Richard Parker

J.: Even with all the news coverage, no one stepped forward to say the dog was theirs?

AC: No, but a guy who’d seen her picture called the Berkeley Dog and Cat Hospital — which has been just great to us — and said that he was a breeder of these dogs, and he thought this was one of the puppies that he sold. So he was able to tell us that she’s half Italian Mastiff, and that she was born on March 3, so she’s about 6 months old. And we know she’s going to get big — her father was around 140 pounds and her mom was 100 pounds.

J.: At what point did you decide to keep her?

AC: That was my wife’s decision, pretty much. She thinks it was kind of providence that the dog showed up right after our younger son went off to college in Colorado. I was nervous about a dog that big, but my wife is committed to the training and had pretty much decided within a couple days that we should keep her.

J.: What’s her name?

AC: We’re calling her Sheba Lucky Richard Parker. We dubbed her Richard Parker (the tiger in the boat in “Life of Pi”), and the windsurfers had dubbed her Lucky … so we had to keep that. But then Lisa wanted a more distinguished name, and historically it turns out these mastiffs go back to Egyptian times, so Sheba seemed like a good regal kind of fit.

J.: Were you surprised the story went viral so quickly?

AC: I’m a pretty low-key person, so this whole thing was really a shock to me. The level of interest has been amazing. I’m really glad the windsurfers found her, and I think she’s got a good home now. So, you know, I get it. It’s hopefully a feel-good story.

Emma Silvers

Emma Silvers is a former J. staff writer.