By Anna Giles

COLFAX (CBS13) — A chocolate lab narrowly avoided drowning in a Placer County canal this week.

His life was spared thanks to a chance encounter with a woman who knew exactly what to do.

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According to rescuer Mia Rice-Stone, the dog had been chasing a deer when he fell into a canal near Colfax and was pulled downstream for more than a mile. Rice-Stone happened to be walking by with her dogs.

“All you could basically see were his big gold eyes looking at me,” she said.

Rice-Stone was the perfect person for this moment. Thanks to being a frequent white water rafter, she had a dry suit and rope at home. She waded in, and after struggling a bit with the current, was able to leash the poor pup and help him swim to safety.

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It was a convoluted canal rescue.

“The current is strong and I needed to get into the canal which was about 12 feet below me. I needed to be able to cross the canal, get to him, and then an escape ladder,” Rice-Stone said.

In fast-moving, freezing water, Rice-Stone knew exactly what to do thanks to water rescue classes she had taken 30 years ago.

“I remembered things like an extra rope connecting myself to somebody on the bank, looping another loop for the dog,” she said.

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Rice-Stone believes if she had not spotted the dog, he would have frozen to death. But instead, it was a happy ending for a dog that was a little too curious.