Former soldier Neil Scholes gave four-year-old Katherine Shackleton CPR after hearing the cries of her mum while cycling past the family.
Katherine and her mum Helen had been walking along the Calder and Hebble next to the John Cotton factory, on Huddersfield Road, Mirfield, on Thursday evening when the family’s boisterous Springer Spaniel knocked the little girl into the water.
Helen, 34, was helpless to rescue her daughter as neither she nor Katherine could swim,
Neil, 35, was cycling home from work in Mirfield when he heard her screams for help.
He said: “At first I thought it was someone messing around, but as I got closer I could hear the lady shouting that she couldn’t swim, that’s when I realised what had happened.
“I jumped off my bike, threw my phone at her and told her to ring and ambulance, and jumped in.
“I didn’t think anything of it - I just did what anybody would do. I have a little girl myself and hope that someone would do the same if she was in danger.”
After helping Katherine to start breathing again, Neil waited for paramedics to arrive before jumping back on his bike and leaving.
But the grateful family managed to track him down to give him their thanks.
Katherine’s dad Graham, 35, of Earlsheaton, said: “I owe him my life. It doesn’t bear thinking about what would have happened had he not gone past at that exact moment.”
Katherine is now absolutely fine and doesn’t remember what happened.
Graham added: “My wife has offered Neil free hair cuts for life and I offered him a reward - but he’s so selfless he refused.
“So we’ll be spending the reward money on swimming lessons !”