A dog owner watched in fear last week from a Pinellas County pier as her beloved pet swam after a shark. It was all captured on cell phone video by a bystander.
If you’d think most dogs would swim away, you haven’t met the chocolate Labrador named “Tootsie.”
"We call her ‘Loca Cocoa,’ crazy chocolate,” laughed owner Karin McArdle.
McArdle said Tootsie spends her days hopping through the water off Crystal Beach, looking for fish and dolphins to chase. Tootsie entertains beachgoers who know her by name.
"Tootsie is a staple on the beach," said McDardle,"She's very inquisitive. She sees the dolphin swimming out there, she likes to swim toward them but they're too far out."
Last week that curiosity almost got Tootsie in trouble.
"She was swimming underneath the pier looking for her fishies. And some people said, 'oh look there are a couple of shark out there,'” said McArdle, who watched it all unfold from the pier.
Tootsie had spotted a fin and went right for it.
"Everybody on the pier started screaming, ‘Tootsie, Tootsie, no!"
In the video you can see Tootsie swim right up behind the shark, as parents are heard warning their kids to look away.
McArdle said she was terrified.
“She just showed no fear, and was not listening, and she's normally very obedient,” she said, "I thought, ‘oh my God my dog's going to be gone, going to be fish fodder.shark bait!"
It turns out Tootsie just wanted a closer look.
"She went up to the tail of that shark, sniffed it, said 'ok,' turned around and that shark just swam on."
Tootsie was not harmed.
Bystanders are heard in the video saying, “They better rename that dog ‘Lucky.’”
McArdle hopes Tootsie has now satisfied her curiosity with sharks.
"Stick with the fish,” said McArdle, “they're good eating!"