Definitely do not imagine that the dog was hungry.
âI was there, and if anybody knows Storm, they know thatâs not in his heart,â said Mr. Freeley, who captured the moment on his phone while out with the golden retriever and his other, less famous dog, Sarah, a rescued Border collie. âHe is the most gentle, gracious dog you ever want to meet.â
Mr. Freeley, who also fosters rescue dogs and does pro bono legal work for a local animal rescue, said Storm âgrasped the deer by the neck â just the way a lifeguard would put his arm over someoneâs neck â and dragged him in.â
In the video, Storm licks the deerâs jugular. âIt was so touching,â Mr. Freeley said. âIt showed he really had a care and was worried about the fawn.â
Mr. Freely said he left to get help. He called a group he knew, Strong Island Animal Rescue League. Frank Floridia, who runs the organization, arrived with leashes and nets.
By then, the fawn had wobbled back up. It took one look at the men and two dogs and darted back into the water, Mr. Floridia said. âThey are animals of flight; they are going to take off wherever they can go,â he said. âIn a yard, they will smash through a wooden fence.â
The fawn paddled out again, this time about 250 feet. After a failed attempt by Storm to fetch it once more, Mr. Floridia took off his shirt and, in his sneakers and shorts, swam out and grabbed the deer.
The 3-month-old white-tailed deer had unexplained wounds on its head and one closed eye, he said. Mr. Floridia and his partner, Erica Kutzing, drove the deer to Save the Animals Rescue Foundation in Middle Island, N.Y., where it was in stable condition late Tuesday, said Lori Ketcham, a director of the organization. The fawn was being treated with antibiotics and was drinking baby goat formula from a bowl.
Many fawns that are brought to the animal rescue, Ms. Ketcham said, are there because of dogs â and not heroic ones. âI think the dog did a very good thing, but Iâm very realistic about what dogs do â dogs tend to chew these little deer up,â she said.
The fawn will eventually be returned to the wild, she said. But it is recovering from many ailments, including subcutaneous emphysema, a condition in which air bubbles are trapped under the skin, making it feel like âBubble Wrap,â Ms. Ketcham said. The illness can be caused by trauma.
Being in a dogâs mouth, Ms. Ketcham said, could be considered traumatic â but so could falling off a sandy cliff, the rescuersâ leading theory of how the fawn got in the water.
(Pay no attention to the naysayers who may suspect that a dog chased it there.)
âOfficially this was a wonderful thing that the dog saved the deer,â Ms. Ketcham said. âBut I think, if he was to his own devices, the deer would not survive.â
Character witnesses for Storm include a parade of foster puppies the Freeleys have taken in over the last month. âThey tortured this poor guy,â Mr. Freely said. âAnd he did nothing.â
The familyâs rabbit, Speedo, often sleeps on the dogâs back. Although Storm adamantly refuses to fetch, Mr. Freeley said, the dog seemed to know the stakes were high in retrieving the fawn.
âA dog with his need to retrieve spearheaded the rescue,â said Ms. Kutzing, the animal rescuer. The details, she said, do not really matter âas long as the ending is happy.â
An earlier version of this story misidentified the breed of Storm the dog. He is a golden retriever, not a Labrador retriever.