A boat captain in Australia is mourning the loss of his beloved dog after she jumped into shark-infested waters in what he says was likely an effort to protect him.

Franz Van Derpoll tells the West Australian that he was spearfishing for dinner off the coast of Point Sampson when he suddenly found himself being circled by two sharks -- a life-threatening situation that apparently didn't go unnoticed by his canine companion, Sky, who had been waiting patiently aboard his boat. 

Perhaps realizing the danger her owner was in, Sky leapt in after him, a heroic move that ultimately costed her her life.

"She's probably decided to jump over the side to protect me and when I came up from my second dive there was lots of blood in the water and no dog," says Van Derpoll

"I had two good years with her in the end but sometimes I wish it was me and not her … I'm 62 and I've had dogs all my life but she was just one of those dogs; Sky was special."

Friends say that when Sky first turned up at the harbor where Van Derpoll works, she was emaciated and showed signs of having been abused -- though her life, and his, changed when they met. It wasn't long before the skipper and his dog became inseparable, with her eagerly joining him whenever he set out on his boat.  But Sky was more than a pet; she helped Van Derpoll recover from a major loss.. 

"I thought I'd never love anything again after my wife died," he says. "Sky to me, she took Mary's place when she passed... she was a beautiful person, if you could put a person and dog in the same category that would be Sky.

"You only fall in love twice in your life - once with your wife and once with a dog."

Van Derpoll's daughter, Kate Freegard, says that Sky was able to put a smile back on her father's face in the midst of his heartache -- so jumping into the dangerous waters that day wasn't the first time she saved him.

"Dad may have rescued her but I feel she is the one that rescued him too."