Grandpa Wrestles a Gator to Save His Dog

Florida retiree Steve Gustafson stops at nothing to rescue his dog Bounce from the jaws of a seven-foot-long alligator.

By Damon Beres from Reader's Digest Magazine | April 2013

Grandpa Wrestles a Gator to Save His Dog
It had been a particularly rainy summer in quiet Lake County, Florida. The water level had risen in two ponds nestled among large green lawns in The Villages, a retirement community where Steve Gustafson and his wife, Regina, lived, and the reeds and brush had grown thick along the water.

As he had done often since retiring from corporate law 12 years ago, Gustafson, 66, went outside to do yard work one afternoon last September. His nine-year-old West Highland white terrier, Bounce, romped nearby.

Suddenly, Gustafson was startled by a terrifying sound. “I heard a scream from Bounce—just bloodcurdling,” he says. “I ran down the hill and saw Bounce in the mouth of an alligator. It was headed right to the water.”

The little dog had wandered into the tall grass along a pond, about 45 feet from Gustafson’s fenceless yard. The alligator, which looked to be at least seven feet long, had sprung from the shallows of the pond and was now holding the dog’s collar between its teeth. It turned away from the bank and began quickly gliding into the water, tugging the dog along with it.

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