Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Smart Girl

The comments on yesterday's post had me thinking about the dangers of hiking a raging creek with a pup. I've given thought to what I would do if my dog got taken I dive in and try to float on my back, feet first, like they teach in white water rafting? But - I wouldn't be able to catch her. Swim and pray I don't bang my head on a boulder? Not likely!

But I'm lucky. I learned when Mabel was a pup to trust her. I thought I had published the story here before but for the life of me, I can't find it. But this is what RottRover was alluding to in her comments about Mabel knowing geometry.

The first year I had Mabel, we would often stop by my BFF's and pick up a dog or three to hike with us. Their lab, Sarah Jean, was one of the most special dogs I've ever known. One that could understand humans on a conversational level. She helped a lot with Mabel's training. We would visit the creek and Mabel would play with the dogs for hours but it was Sarah that loved the water and tennis balls as much as Mabel.

That winter, there was a horrible flood in the creek. I had picked up Sarah and Tommy the mutt and headed to the water. Sarah knew immediately not to rush into the water. But as we rounded the end of the levee, (There was no upper stream bed back then, just a gradual slope to the river.) Mabel dashed headlong into the raging water with me screaming and Sarah barking warnings frantically. She was underwater and being swept downstream and some part of me was certain I was watching my pup drown.

She popped up and went under again and came up running with all her might, finally washing out on the opposite shore about 25 feet down stream. She coughed and sputtered, resting on the sand. After a few minutes, she was up and on her feet and doing her usual puppy exploration on the other side of the river: chasing lizards and ground squirrels. Occasionally, she would look over at Sarah and Tommy and wonder why her friends weren't joining her.

Relieved that she was O.K., I started planning. I was certain that any minute another hiker would be along the trail and that I could talk them into hiking up and around with a leash and have them lead Mabel out the other way. I knew that if I left that shore, Mabel would try to cross. So I waited...and waited. For the first time since I had been hiking at the creek, absolutely no one came along.

But that was all right. I figured if I stayed put, the BFF would send out a search party. After about 45 minutes...which is about the amount of time I would let the dogs play on a normal day...Mabel start whining and looking across the stream at us longingly. I would yell at her, "NO! STAY!" And since we've long ago established just how well my dog listens to me...

Mabel got a strange determined look in her eye. She looked downstream where she washed out of the rapids. She looked at me. She looked upstream and back at me. She turned and took off upstream. 25 feet upstream.

I'm still yelling for her to stay when she turned and took off into the brush. I was content that she had found something else to hold her attention and was breathing a sigh of relief when I realized she was just getting a running start!

She leaped into that roaring stream, went under and popped up, leaping with everything in her. Under and leap, under and leap and would you believe she washed out at my feet? Hence, Mabel's friends think she can do geometry!

But seriously, since that time, Mabel is VERY cautious when entering fast moving water. She is not a natural swimmer... terrified of even walking NEAR my pool and when she is afraid water is deep, she leaps. Which is how the very first Creekhiker logo photo came to be. This was taken later that same summer, after the stream had calmed.
If you have a dog and you hike near dangerous waters, give it some thought so panic won't be your guide in a frightening situation.


Snowbrush said...

Bonnie has shown herself intelligent in many ways, but she never could understand why--in a river--the stick never seemed to be where I had thrown it.

Twinkietinydog said...

Mabel, stop scaring your momma like that! Stay safe, my furiend. We have tons of whipped cream to enjoy together in the future.