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‘His eyes were so sad’: Oil rig crew rescues a dog swimming 135 miles off Thailand

In this Friday, April 12, 2019, photo, oil rig crew pose with a dog after the dog was rescued in the Gulf of Thailand. Survivor" the dog is safely back on land after being found by oil rig workers swimming about 220 kilometers (135 miles) from shore in the Gulf of Thailand. Chevron Thailand worker Vitisak Payalaw posted on Facebook that the dog was sighted last Friday swimming toward the platform. Vitisak says the pup clung to the platform below deck without barking or whimpering. The workers think the dog fell off a fishing trawler. (Vitisak Payalaw via AP)

Vitisak Payalaw and his crew were working on an oil rig 135 miles off the southern coast of Thailand on Friday when they spotted something unexpectedly bobbing in the gentle waves.

It was a dog.

The animal was fighting his way through the moving water, heading for the oil rig. As he approached the structure, Payalaw, an offshore planner for Chevron Thailand Exploration and Production, held out a pole after the animal had splashed his way to the platform below the rig’s deck. As a video Payalaw posted to his Facebook account shows, the pup was soaked, shivering and too exhausted to whimper or bark.

"His eyes were so sad. He just kept looking up just like he wanted to say, ‘Please help me,’ " Payalaw told CNN. “At that moment, whoever saw this, they would just have to help.”

In this Friday, April 12, 2019, photo, a dog is taken care by an oil rig crew after being rescued in the Gulf of Thailand. (Vitisak Payalaw via AP)
A dog is taken care by an oil rig crew after being rescued in the Gulf of Thailand. (Vitisak Payalaw via AP)

The crew, however, knew it had to act fast. The waves were kicking up, meaning the dog could be swept away soon.

"I thought that if we didn't move quickly, I would not be able to help him," Payalaw said. "If he lost his grip, it would be very difficult to help him."

Four members of the crew, including Payalaw, spent 15 minutes devising a way to pull the animal up to the rig, eventually slinging a looped rope around the dog's neck and hoisting it to the deck. Pictures from the offshore planner's Facebook account show the animal looking sapped after being taken aboard the rig.

According to NPR, the rig workers gave the dog water and pieces of meat. Then, they settled on a name: “Boonrod,” meaning “he has done good karma and that helps him to survive.”

"He looked extremely exhausted and ran out of energy. He didn't move much," Payalaw said to CNN. "He was shaking and he couldn't stand, he had to sit all the time."

How exactly a dog ended up paddling for his life in the middle of the Gulf of Thailand remains a mystery. According to the Bangkok Post, Boonrod may have jumped or fallen off another vessel in the water.

On Monday, Boonrod was transported back to the mainland, coming ashore at Songkhla, Thailand.

The dog is seen at Dog Smile House Clinic in Songkhla, southern Thailand. (Dog Smile House via AP)

According to Facebook pictures posted Monday by animal rights group Watchdog Thailand, when Boonrod stepped onto dry land, workers draped a garland of marigolds around his neck, a symbol of welcome and good fortune, the Times reported. The dog flashed a good-boy smile.

Boonrod’s happy ending story quickly went viral online. Payalaw’s original Facebook post had more than 23,000 shares and 7,300 comments by early Wednesday morning.

"Three cheers to #Boonrod," one user on Twitter said. "Simply amazing - we need a story like THIS on a day like today," another posted.

Payalaw told NPR he plans to adopt Boonrod if the dog is not claimed by an owner.

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