Less than a week left ’til my pal Siggy returns to his Island with his two-leggers! I can hardly wait.
I love the winter – the wind, the cold, the fluffy white stuff and water hard enough to run on. But there’s something I don’t like about winter. I get lonely. All my dog friends seem to disappear with the dropping of the leaves and the first fall of fluffy white stuff.
Last year when Siggy came home, I got so excited to hear his voice that I ran out across the hard water to visit him. His female two-legger, Karin, saw me coming. She called my name and told me to go home. I stopped because I was so surprised she knew my name, then I turned and went back to our point. I came home a bit sad because I thought Karin didn’t like me.
Elizabeth told me that Karin does like me, though, and that she told me to go home because she knew it was dangerous for me to be on the ice, or to visit other dogs and two-leggers without one of my two-leggers with me. I didn’t understand what the fuss was about. I thought Elizabeth was just trying to make me feel less rejected. So she told me a story to show me how much Siggy’s two-leggers really do like other dogs.
Elizabeth had a dog before me. Cocoa was a Chesapeake Bay Retriever who lived to be very old – 105 dog years old! It was because Elizabeth missed Cocoa so much that she got me.
Late in her life, Cocoa’s back legs got very sore and tired quickly, but she still loved to go for walks on Elizabeth’s trails and to cool off in the river.
One spring day, just after the water had become splashy once more, they went for a walk over to the point. Cocoa went down a rocky slope to get a drink and got stuck. Her legs wouldn’t work well enough to push her back up the rocks to Elizabeth. So, Elizabeth climbed down to help.
She couldn’t carry Cocoa up the hill. Cocoa wasn’t as big as me, but she was still too big for carrying. But Elizabeth saw a series of rock steps just under the water which Cocoa could take to get to a grassy beach that would be easier for her to manage.
Cocoa didn’t want to go into the water.
Elizabeth tossed a pebble out to entice her. Not far.
But it was too far…. Cocoa’s back legs wouldn’t work in the cold water, and Elizabeth couldn’t reach her to pull her back to shore. And she’d be risking her own life to go into the water herself. She called for help, but no one could hear her. Cocoa’s thrashing front paws were taking her out into the current….
Elizabeth ran all the way home to get the canoe and help. She says she was terrified that Cocoa might give up, so she called to her all the way home as loudly as she could to keep her spirits up.
When she got to the two-legger house, she phoned a neighbour with a boat, but got an answering machine. She had yelled over to the island where Siggy lives and no one had heard her, but she tried phoning them anyway. Siggy’s other two-legger, Dan, answered and told her he’d get out to Cocoa right away.
Elizabeth ran back down to the river and hauled the canoe down the hill with her and into the water. Then she paddled like mad around the point. She thought she heard Dan’s boat while she paddled across our bay, but she couldn’t see or hear it when she got around the point. And she couldn’t see any sign of Cocoa in the water.
Heartbroken, she paddled on, hoping she could at least find her old pal’s body to take home. It was one of the worst moments in her life. She’d just killed her best friend.
She kept paddling.
Then she saw the boat, pulled up on the very beach she’d been trying to get Cocoa to wade to. Kay was calling from the other side of the point… and there was Cocoa, wobbling up the hill to find her!
Elizabeth pulled up to Dan’s boat and he told her, “I couldn’t find her at first. Then I saw her nose, just before it went under. She’d drifted almost all the way over to our island! I was able to grab her collar, but I couldn’t get her into the boat, so I held her head up and maneuvered her over to this beach.”
Dan realised that Elizabeth had just about killed herself running and paddling (she has a lot of trouble breathing sometimes – something called asthma), so he loaded everyone and the canoe into his boat and drove them all home. He even helped take the canoe back up the hill!
Cocoa recovered and lived until the fall of that year, thanks to Dan’s quick response. Elizabeth says he and Karin are the best kind of neighbours anyone could ask for.