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MCKINNEY (CBS11) — The survivor of a swift water rescue is speaking out; firefighters had to pull the homeless man and his dog out of flood waters Friday morning.

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In order to reach rescuers, Edward Emmerich said he and his Belgian Malinois had to swim about 1,500 feet from their encampment in the woods. He said it’s the place he’s called home for the last seven months, and now that it’s all gone, he’s just grateful he and Duke made it out alive.

“My dog, he’s my best friend. He’s the only thing I got,” Emmerich said.

The rescue wasn’t easy. When Emmerich called 911 he had trouble explaining his location inside the wooded area near Wilson Creek, so firefighters had to use pings off his cell phone to find him. That’s when it was clear they didn’t have one victim, but two.

Emmerich’s 4 1/2 year-old Belgian Malinois, Duke, was eager to show his gratitude to the firefighters who saved him. His owner tells us the two of them have been through a lot over the last two years living outdoors after they fell on hard times.

“Well that was originally… that’s what started off the problem was that everybody wanted me to give Duke away and go into a shelter, but I couldn’t do that,” Emmerich said.

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A trained survivalist, Emmerich said for the last seven months he and Duke were comfortable camping in McKinney. But he said he learned a humbling lesson Friday when rising water came so fast, he didn’t have time to react.

“Even with my experience and everything that I know, it didn’t really matter too much at that point. Nature doesn’t care what you know,” Emmerich said.

Conditions are still too rough to make it back to his former campsite to try to recover any of his possessions. For now Emmerich said he’s just grateful firefighters have given him and Duke a chance to keep trying to improve their lives.

“And then the amount that they went through to actually put their lives in danger and risk to save both of us, you know I don’t think I can thank them enough,” Emmerich said.

There is one silver lining: Emmerich works construction jobs, and a construction client of his is letting him Duke temporarily stay in a home he’s working to refurbish. He said he’s grateful that client also happens to be a dog rescuer.

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