Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Ice Floe Rescue Attempt

"Your goal should be out of reach, but not out of sight."

This advice may be wonderful for most enterprises, and certainly for the Olympic rowers urged on by it, but my basic premise has always been, "Don't risk falling into the waters of  a partially frozen lake to save a dog.  Kenya is younger and more agile, and her body weight of 80 pounds or so is distributed over four legs.  She will save herself.  You, on the other hand, will drown or die of hypothermia."

Yesterday, the dog I thought was smart enough to recognize the dangers inherent in the shifting cracking ice of Pike Lake decided to investigate to see if she could get closer to all the spring walkers enjoying the sunshine on the other side of the lake, and I broke my own rule.

I headed down to the shoreline with small pieces of cedar planking which I placed on the ice to allow me to get closer to her.  I offered a Dentibone, thinking she might just be refusing to come in.  She ignored the treat.

I tried going just a step or two closer.  The ice began to crack and split apart beneath me.   When the ice began to crumble away with every attempt to save myself,  I felt the same terror Kenya must be feeling each time she tried to get back onto a solid footing. 

Finally I felt solid ice beneath me, and turned back to shore. 

When she saw me retreating, Kenya keened, a long drawn out plea for help.

I hurried a little faster.

By the time I returned with two sleds that I thought I would shoot over to her, she was pacing in the freezing slush.  Her eyes never left me as I exhorted her to come NOW! FAST! she could do it.  But after a few more half  hearted attempts to get onto ice that would support her weight, she stayed where she was.

I realized the silliness of my plan at about the same instant she did.  She looked over toward the floating dock now mired in ice and snow.  And I shouted again, "C'mon, Girl.  You can do it!" 

She dashed across the moving ice floes to the dock and in a frenzy of relief spun around in circles on it before making the last run to shore to meet me.

We headed up to the warmth of the house where I dried her paws and she settled in before the fire with her dentibone.  I lay down beside her, buried my face in her ruff, breathed in fresh air and sunshine, and exhaled relief.


Barbara Carlson said...

Gawd how frightening a story and how full of relief I was to read the outcome. No sad headlines today!

sassy said...

OMG - what a terrifying moment for both of you. Like Barbara I am relieved that it ended well

I had one similar to that a few years ago with my dog (scared with hell out of me) and after that kept her away from the river during those freezing up and thawing off weeks.

sassy said...

whoops - should be "scared the hell out of me"

Oma said...

Barbara and Sassy: Thanks for your comments ... and your relief.

Sassy's solution is a good one, but the only way I can keep Kenya away from the danger is to keep her leashed or tied for several weeks because the lake is right here, so a better solution for her is to learn when the lake is unsafe.

I thought she had learned, that her instincts were keeping her away from the unsettling sensation of being on an insecure surface, because she hasn't ventured out for some time.

Perhaps this experience will have taught her the unforgettable lesson she needed to learn.

I hope so ...