Baby's rescuers don't know how long she was treading water in Tampa Bay.
About 7:30 Thursday morning, a fisherman saw the small dog's nose rising above the waves about 2 miles from the St. Petersburg shoreline. The bay water temperature was 68.
"We're assuming she fell overboard at night and nobody even knew it," said Suzy Johnson, one of the dog's current caretakers.
Johnson lives on a boat at Demens Landing. The dog arrived there when the commercial fishing boat docked at the marina. Tony Basile, another Demens Landing resident, saw the fisherman trying to coax Baby out of the boat's crawl space. He wrapped the dog in a towel and took her back to his boat.
"She shook all night," Basile said.
When they took the dog to Banfield Pet Hospital — a name they found on her tags — staff members scanned her microchip and found a name.
But the dog was reported missing two years ago, and the number associated with her name doesn't work. A Banfield spokesperson said it's possible Baby's family reported her missing years ago, found her, and didn't update her information.
Baby is brown, about 18 inches tall and 20 to 30 pounds, Johnson said. She's wearing a red collar and a pink rhinestone name tag. They aren't sure about her breed but say she seems well groomed and cared for.
"She is just so well trained and obedient," Johnson said.
Now, her caretakers are hoping a happy reunion will follow the dog's lucky rescue. The veterinary hospital is trying to contact her owners, and in the meantime the staff hopes photos and word of the story will help her find her home.
Claire Wiseman can be reached at [email protected] or (727) 893-8804. Follow @clairelwiseman on Twitter.