Rescued Australian sailor Tim Shaddock reunites with Bella and reveals why he gave her away

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Tim Shaddock and his dog, Bella, were lost in the Pacific Ocean for months - they have recently reunited after the sailor gave her away

Tim Shaddock and his dog Bella have been reunited after their separation following their time lost at sea. 

Mr Shaddock was reunited with his dog on Mexico's Manzanillo beach a week after their dramatic rescue by a crew of tuna fishermen. 

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Their story made headlines in mid-July after the pair were spotted by a helicopter on 12 July. The sailor and his four-legged friend were rescued after spending two months drifting in the Pacific Ocean. Their boat had been partially wrecked in a storm, with steering, navigation and cooking equipment all destroyed. 

Tim Shaddock and his dog have been rescued in the Pacific Ocean after surviving by drinking rain water and eating raw fish for months. (Nine news)Tim Shaddock and his dog have been rescued in the Pacific Ocean after surviving by drinking rain water and eating raw fish for months. (Nine news)
Tim Shaddock and his dog have been rescued in the Pacific Ocean after surviving by drinking rain water and eating raw fish for months. (Nine news) | Nine news

The 54-year-old Australian and Bella were 1,200 miles from the nearest land when the helicopter appeared after they had survived off nothing but rainwater and raw fish, living under a small canopy on board his wrecked vessel. 

After being rescued the pair had to go their separate ways, and he decided to leave Bella in Mexico after a crew member from the rescue boat promised to give her a happy and loving home. 

In an interview with The Times, Mr Shaddock said: "I’m so happy to have seen my dog again. She’s still as lively as ever."

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 It was reported that one of the reasons why Mr Shadock gave Bella up was due to the strict Australian rules to bring pets into the country. However, in his interview, he states that instead of returning to Sydney, he is hoping to explore Belize. 

He said that he is happy to put himself through another potentially dangerous journey but he is not happy to put his Bella at risk again.

“She’s been through a lot with me as it is,” he explains.

“I’m sad to lose her . . . she’s a remarkable animal,” says Shaddock. “I’ve had her since she was a pup, and she just hasn’t stopped following me.”

When he left central Mexico for the coast last spring, Bella hopped into the car next to him of her own accord. “I thought to myself, well that’s it then.”

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The pair’s journey began in March 2020, after Shaddock could not return to Australia due to its notoriously strict pandemic restrictions, where 20,000 Australian citizens became stuck abroad. With his US tourist visa about to expire, he crossed from Houston, Texas, where he was working remotely, into Mexico, where he met Bella and started plotting a sailing route home. “Everyone was social distancing,” he jokes. “I just took it a bit too far.”

Mr Shaddock said he left Mexico too late and was soon caught in "some big seas on the fringes of storms, and I was going backwards”.

“I bit off more than I could chew,” he admits. “Most of my sailing experience is from when I was just a boy. The most offshore sailing I had ever done was along Australia’s Gold Coast, from Brisbane down to Sydney. A week on the boat, but always in sight of land. But across the Pacific sailing solo? It’s a very long way.”

He was heading into the path of Hurricane Calvin before the helicopter appeared: "It was amazing, the very moment I realised I was in the path of the hurricane, the helicopter appeared. He was looking for the tuna, and the tuna were with me.”

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The pilot, Andres Zamorano, radioed down to the fishing boat and approached Shaddock’s catamaran where they found him looking relieved, and Bella with her tail wagging furiously.

“He’s a very lucky man, we’ve told him to buy a lottery ticket,” says Zamorano. “Even our 900-tonne tuna boat was forced to sail south to avoid the storm. His little yacht would have been smashed to pieces by now.”

“She’s got a really good outcome,” says Shaddock, of Bella’s prospective new life with Genaro Rosales, 48, his three children, and their pug-chihuahua cross Vicente. “The worst outcome was that she would lose her life out there with me.”

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