Finally, some good news: Fisherman saves 38 dogs from drowning, Humboldt bus crash survivor heads to Paralympics, and an emotional voicemail goes viral

Yahoo Canada editors highlight the most smile-worthy and inspiring stories this week

Good news roundup. (Credit from left: HO-Rowing Canada, Bob Gist and Helena Epstein)

In a world often dominated by challenging headlines, Yahoo News Canada aims to spotlight uplifting news stories both local and beyond.

This week's roundup includes a fishing trip turned rescue mission, a Humboldt Broncos bus crash survivor making Team Canada's Paralympic rowing team, and the story of a three-year-old voicemail leading to an emotional reunion.

🐕 Heroic fisherman saves 38 dogs from drowning tragedy

Two friends expecting to spend a day together on a fishing trip ended up embarking on a fully-blown rescue mission after they spotted 38 dogs treading water in a lake.

Shocked fishermen rescue 38 dogs they find treading water in Mississippi lake
Shocked fishermen rescue 38 dogs they find treading water in Mississippi lake

The pair headed to Grenada Lake in Mississippi, and along with Jordan Chrestman, a local fishing guide, the party went out on the water. After a few hours of not finding much luck with the spot they were in, the group moved to a different location, where things took a bizarre turn.

While they may have been hoping for a successful bounty of catches from their trip, they ended up coming away with a huge haul — but instead of fish, they wound up with a total of 38 dogs.

"We go about a half mile or so from where we were to another place and we start fishing, and pretty soon we can hear some dogs barking," Gist said in an interview with Fox News.

Once they arrived in the canine-infested waters, the three men were stunned to see the sheer number of dogs stuck out in the lake.

"We’re just flabbergasted because it’s dogs everywhere, and they’re all going in different directions because they can no longer see the bank on either side," Gist told the outlet.

The three men grabbed the exhausted dogs by their collars and dragged them into their boat (Bob Gist)
The three men grabbed the exhausted dogs by their collars and dragged them into their boat (Bob Gist)

The three men, without hesitation, immediately took action and fished them out of the water by grabbing their collars and calling them, encouraging them onto their vessel.

They grabbed as many as they could until the boat was swarmed with the wet dogs, but they soon became overwhelmed and had to deposit the first round of hounds to the bank.

The tracker was able to locate around three to four more dogs, Gist explained, saying they “were on the verge of drowning, because now they have been treading water for an hour.”

🚣‍♂️'A little surreal': Humboldt Broncos bus crash survivor named to Paralympic rowing team

Jacob Wassermann's lifelong dream of representing his country at the highest level in sport, to wear the maple leaf on a global athletic stage, has finally become a reality.

Rowing Canada made it official on Thursday as Wassermann is part of Team Canada going to the 2024 Paralympics in Paris.

"It's still a little surreal," Wassermann told CBC Sports.

"I know we're like two months out at this point, but it still almost doesn't feel real that I started this journey not that long ago and I'm getting the opportunity to compete at the biggest stage and wear the maple leaf."

Wassermann, 24, is one of 13 people who survived the horrific Humboldt Broncos bus crash tragedy in 2018, leaving him paralyzed from the waist down. He was the Broncos' No. 1 goaltender when the crash happened.

Sport has played a crucial role throughout his life and was a pivotal part of his healing process. Wassermann started taking para rowing seriously about a year ago and in a very short time has excelled in the sport.

"I can't believe it. I'm very grateful for all of it."Jacob Wassermann, Humboldt Broncos bus crash survivor

"I'm very proud of how far Jacob has come along on his rowing journey," said Adam Parfitt, Rowing Canada's High Performance Director to CBC Sports. "Each athlete has their own unique journey, and we applaud Jacob for his commitment and dedication to achieving his own success in Paris and beyond. The whole rowing community and nation is behind him!"

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☎️ A 3-year-old voicemail goes viral

Emilia Epstein, right, with her younger sister Helena Epstein, left, in Miami Beach The younger Epstein posted a TikTok video of Tameka Rooks's motivational voice mail, which went viral. (Helena Epstein)
Emilia Epstein, right, with her younger sister Helena Epstein, left, in Miami Beach The younger Epstein posted a TikTok video of Tameka Rooks' motivational voicemail, which went viral. (Helena Epstein)

When Helena Epstein was preparing to sit for the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) earlier this month, she reached out to her older sister, Emilia Epstein, for advice and encouragement about the test.

Emilia delivered in a big way — in the form of a voicemail she had saved from a GRE testing site in Boston three years earlier when she took the exam.

The voicemail started out like any other standard courtesy message, explaining where to report and what to bring to the test. But then the Prometric test centre representative — a stranger to Emilia — turned sincere and personal.

“Come confident and well prepared. Miss Emilia, this is what you studied for, this is what you worked hard for. Bring your best girl confidence. Bring your best girl magic. It’s called girl power. Girl power is the best power, ain’t nothing better than that! So, put in your head that this is what you want. Don’t come nervous.”

The one-minute message, which was posted on social media and quickly went viral with 6 million views, continued:

“Because when you have to do something for work, you’re not nervous. But when we study for something, I just feel like people are more nervous when they study to get prepared than when you walk into work. Work is unpredictable and you are ready for work, you know what I’m saying, Miss Emilia? So just come the same way as if you were coming for work. And just tell yourself, ‘I worked hard for this.’ Other than that, honey, I will see you tomorrow in the afternoon. And come with a smile because I’ll have one already. Have a great evening.”

After hearing the voicemail in 2021, Emilia, now a project manager in San Francisco, remembers crying and thinking, “Who is this woman — who doesn’t know me, or anything about me or why I’m taking the test — who spent the time and energy to make sure that I’m coming in happy and prepared and feeling good about myself?”

As the TikTok video amassed 6 million views and more than 14,000 comments — so did a spontaneous group effort to track down Tameka Rooks, the woman from the voicemail.

When Rooks, 43, who lives in Boston, heard from a colleague that someone had come into her previous test centre looking for her, she was suspicious. She wasn’t on TikTok and had no idea an old voicemail had gone viral. In fact, Rooks was sure her old co-workers were playing a prank on her.

When she finally watched the TikTok video, she was shocked.

“It was just unbelievable,” she said. “And to see that so many people had already seen it by the time I found out! The world knew before I did.”

The two woman had an opportunity to connect over the phone, thanks to the power of social media.

When the two women spoke, Helena told Rooks how her voice had moved so many people, and that thousands of people wanted to be sure she saw all the heartwarming comments.

“A voice mail like this can really change people’s perspective on how they’re feeling about an exam, or how they’re feeling about an interview,” Helena said. “Everyone needs to hear nice words.”

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