Hernandez tells The Early Show co-anchor Harry Smith Bob leaped in front of her seconds before a fast-approaching alligator reached her as she swam in a waterway off her dock in Tampa, Fla.
Holding another dog of hers, tiny Mia, Hernandez told Smith she was playing fetch with Bob, a chow-lab mix who weighed 80 pounds, when she decided to go in the water to cool off, "and that's when I heard the alligator coming."
Hernandez says she knew she was in trouble the instant she saw the 'gator: "I heard a sound. It sounded like a boat cutting through the water. And I looked back toward my left, and this alligator literally was out of the water. His body was just above the water. He was moving so fast, he was cutting the water, making a sound.
"The only thing I could think of was to try to distract him. So I started smacking the water and I started screaming. And he just kept coming. And he wouldn't stop."
Which is when Bob "dropped his toy and came up behind me, got right in front of me, just before the 'gator got me. The alligator took Bob down right in front of me. He rolled over one time, and it was that fast. I mean -- we're talking seconds. He literally saved my life."
"I got out of the water, got on to the dock. And just watched the water. And he came up five minutes later right at the exact spot he went down, with Bob in his mouth, and just stared at me."
Hernandez says she called the 'gator patrol the next morning when she spotted him again, some 1,500 feet from "where he had taken Bob. I walked out on the dock and he came -- the 'gator started coming toward the dock again. So I called Trapper John. He went out there. The 'gator actually came after him. All had he to do was throw a line in, the 'gator snapped it, and he had him within 15 minutes."
Authorities plan to put the 'gator down.
But Hernandez says she'll never swim there again: "My life has been changed. This was my paradise. And kind of my sanctuary. And my peaceful place. And it's all changed."