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Dog escapes Alcatraz

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  • Dog escapes Alcatraz


    AFTER an inauspicious plop into the choppy waters off Alcatraz, Jake the pooch swam into the history books as the first canine to escape from the former prison island to San Francisco.
    The Golden retriever and his human swimming buddy, Jeff Pokonosky, led a group of competitors that jumped from a boat in waters off the prison for a 2km swim to San Francisco, according to the South End Rowing Club.

    "It was just a total hoot-and-a-half," said the club's Laila Kaiser, who was on board for the start of the Tenth Annual Alcatraz Invitational plunge. "Jake hesitated, walked down the plank a bit, fell off and then did awesome."

    Pokonosky, who preceded Jake into the water, tossed a tennis ball to get Jake paddling and the pair took off.

    Pokonosky and his pooch live in southern California, where they routinely take long ocean swims and lengthy "ball workouts," according to Pokonosky.

    Fueled by a hearty egg breakfast, Jake finished 72nd overall, with a time of 41 minutes and 45 seconds, organizers said.

    "It highlights a unique relationship between a man and his dog, as well as potential; not just human potential," Kaiser told AFP. "Here is a guy who wanted to include his dog in all parts of his life, including swimming."

    Jake trotted dripping onto shore, shook water from his fur and reluctantly allowed a "finisher's medal" to be placed around his neck.

    "People wanted to pet him," said race director Bill Wygant, who was waiting at the finish line. "After we finally got the medal around his heck, he sat there a long time and it really looked like he was smiling."

    Jake is the first dog on record to make the swim, and the way was cleared after Pokonosky asked for the dog to be in the competition, Wygant said.

    "Rather than throw a dog in the water, we were allowing Jeff to have his dog accompany him," Wygant said.

    Jake and Pokonosky made the drive from San Francisco to their home in San Diego on Monday, according to Stacia Raines, who made the motor trip with them. The dog is reveling in the attention, Raines said.

    "He is a happy dog right now," Raines said.

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