Doggy rescue prevents a broken heart


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Viera East's Bill Russ of Element Lawn Maintenance saved customer/neighbor Shannon DeConda's beloved pup Noodles from drowning July 5. Her daughter, Sara Smith, right, witnessed the rescue.

photo by Linda Wiggins

As Bill Russ' young daughter says, his job turned out to be the real life “PAW Patrol” July 5. But unlike the popular Nick Jr. cartoon of canine heroes, it was Russ who saved a pup.

Element Lawn Maintenance owner Russ was trimming with a weeder when he caught an unusual sight in his peripheral vision, a black bobbing object in the backyard pool of his Viera East customer, coincidentally also his across-the-street neighbor on Auburn Lakes Drive.

As he turned his attention to investigate fully, what he realized was a dog's head disappeared under the surface.

Shannon DeConda's beloved pup Noodles was saved from drowning July 5. | PHOTO BY LINDA WIGGINS“That's when I knew I had to act fast. I reached for the pool enclosure door that thankfully wasn't locked, because if it was, there would have been no door; I was going through it anyway,” Russ said. He reached down and plucked the submerged Jack Russell Yorkie terrier mix from the drink.

It was Noodles' second time being rescued in four months. Though there were other animals in the house, Shannon DeConda wanted a dog that would bond closely with her.

The family searched near and far for a good match and finally found Noodles through Poodle and Pooch Rescue in Orlando. He was a runner-up choice after the three-legged Chihuahua DeConda had her eye on got snapped up, and she's never looked back.

“We've never had a dog who loved me and I loved him until Noodles. He's like my heart. When I come in the backdoor he's standing tall with his paws in the air, ready give me a high five,” said DeConda, who travels a great deal as a medical billing consultant and loves the comical welcome home. The dog's long, tall body that earned him the name Noodles ironically made him less of a pool noodle, subject to sinking rather than floating.

Shannon DeConda's beloved pup Noodles was saved from drowning July 5. | PHOTO BY LINDA WIGGINSThe household's other animals include Boo, a Brussels Griffon terrier tightly bonded to DeConda's husband Chris, inherited from his mother when she went into assisted living. Peanut is a tiny Yorkie Poo with health issues and can't return love, but is bonded generally to all the family members, which include the DeCondas' children, Sarah Smith, a senior at Viera High School who dual-attends most of her classes at Eastern Florida State College, and Shakia and Spencer DeConda, who graduated from VHS this past year and the year before, respectively, and also attend EFSC. The remaining family companion animal is an orange domestic long-haired cat, Max, that as with all felines belongs to himself.

“Had anything happened to Noodles, it would have just been devastating to me, to all of us,” DeConda said. Sarah was at home and witnessed the rescue, but had no idea until then that Noodles was in the pool.

DeConda paused a moment to dab her eyes and light up a Georgia-bred Southern smile.

“Bill saved my doggy's life and I'll forever be so grateful.”

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