JACKSON COUNTY, MS (WLOX) - "We have no idea how she got out there."
That's what Jimmie Martin said after her dog, Bandit, was found by a boater swimming a mile offshore between Gautier and Pascagoula on Sunday.
This story has a happy ending. The boater was kind enough to scoop the waterlogged pooch out of the water and give her a ride home.
Martin said Bandit is 11 years old and loves to visit with the neighbors.
"She likes to go visiting, but no one can ever get close enough to catch her, so she always comes home," Martin told us over the phone Monday evening from her home in Arcadia, FL.
Martin, a Pascagoula native, said her step-mother recently passed away, and she was visiting her father in Gautier and preparing for the memorial service last week.
On Thursday, Martin said Bandit and one of her other dogs, a Great Dane, got adventurous and went exploring around noon. Later that day, the Great Dane returned to the home on Ladnier Rd. in the Lakewood Estates neighborhood, but Bandit was nowhere to be found.
Martin spent the next two days searching for the dog, and the big break came on Sunday, thanks to social media.
Aaron Williams, who lives in Ocean Springs according to his Facebook page, found the dog swimming in the Mississippi Sound.
He shared photos of Bandit on Facebook in hopes of finding her owner. The post exploded. It has been shared more than 3,500 times since it was posted around 2:30 p.m. Sunday.
Martin said someone put her in contact with Williams' wife, and they brought Bandit, by boat, to Poticaw Landing in Vancleave.
Martin said she was relieved to be reunited with her four-legged friend, but she is baffled as she thinks about how the dog got that far offshore.
"We have no idea how she got out there. She's never been on a boat before, and she usually doesn't swim," Martin said. "I'm sure she got a good workout out there."
Martin said Bandit is worn out and slept the entire ride home from Gautier to Arcadia, which is about nine hours away.
She is glad to be back at home with Bandit, and she has a simple message to the people who rescued her.
"Thank you very, very, very much."
We have reached out to Williams to get his side of this amazing story. We will update this story with those details when we hear from him.