'Not only is punishment risky, but it also fails to teach the dog an acceptable alternate behaviour. The dog does not learn what to do the next time he is in the same situation. He only learns to fear the situation.' Emma Parsons, Click to Calm p73

Friday, 13 July 2012


A couple of days ago, me and Lola had a very traumatising experience.

She was filthy, and hot. We'd been walking for a while through mud, so I took her to the canal to let her cool off. I didn't really take notice of the slightly faster moving water than at other parts of the canal; and I assumed she'd be able to handle it, anyway.

And she did. Three times, I tossed the ball gently into the water, and three times she had no problem bringing it back. On the fourth throw, the ball got pulled out just a little too far--right into the faster currents. Lola followed it in, grabbed it, and then turned and couldn't get back.

I watched her for a few moments, thinking she'd be fine. I called her, and she tried to surge forward to get to me, but couldn't get out of the current. Her face was starting to look panicked; and I expect mine was starting to look just as bad.

She wasn't just stationary in the water now, but was being pulled slowly away - away from me, away from the bank. I started calling her more loudly, desperately, trying to encourage her to push forward as much as she possibly could. She was being pulled further and further away, and I realised that if I didn't get her, she would carry on down the canal.

At this part of the canal, after you leave the area we were in, there is only one other part where the canal is accessible until it goes under the nearby park. I could have run to the next accessible part and hoped I'd beat her there; but maybe she'd have gotten out and tried to follow me, and gotten lost. Or maybe I'd have missed her, and she would have been swept under the park for a couple of minutes in the darkness. After that, there's only a small stretch of accessible water (very slow moving) before it again is unaccessible.

I couldn't risk losing my dog in order to keep myself dry.

Still calling her, I quickly pulled off my bags and dropped my phone on the ground. I headed quickly into the water, fully dressed (and, as I realised later, my mp3 still on - thankfully that still works now!), and waded after her. Wellington boots and jeans are not appropriate rescue-dog-from-canal attire.

She got pushed further and further away, and I nearly slipped face-first a lot. The water was difficult to slog through. Lola was pushed against a fallen tree branch, which (thankfully) slowed her enough that I could catch up. I grabbed her just as she was about to slip under the branch, and pulled her up against my chest.

She clung to me, wrapping her paws tightly around my free arm, and only dropped the ball once I asked her to. She'd held onto it the entire time.

I managed to get a lift home from a friend, and had a shower then washed Lola too. Once we were clean and dry, there seemed to be no lasting damage. She did sleep for the rest of the day, though.

I haven't taken her to deep water again yet, but we did go biking along our usual canal route (not the same fast part of the canal! we've never been there before, and certainly won't go again) and she went into the stomach-high (on her) water with no problem to cool off. I think she'll be okay.


Sara said...

How scary! Glad to hear that she's ok.

Chris and Ricky said...

OMG, scary story!! I can only imagine how you felt standing there while Lola kept floating away. I am so glad you were able to get to her and that you both will be fine!

K-Koira said...

Wow, that would be super scary. I've had a few moments with my dogs at the river where I have been snatching the stuff out of my pockets like my phone to go in after the dog, but the dog has always righted itself and headed back before I've actually had to go in.

Really glad she is okay. Hopefully it doesn't turn her off swimming.

Berts Blog said...

That is crazy scary. YOu could both have been dragged under. I am so glad you are both ok. It makes me think a little more caustiously about my trips with Bert to the river.

Diana said...

OMG , I was crying just reading this. Im so glad you were able to get her. Very scary.

Bailey Be Good! said...

Oh my goshiesss! I am so glad you both are SAFE!! Please, please, PLEASE be careful and stay away from there -- I don't want anything bad to happen to you. :) :)

Woofs & huggies, <3

~Bailey (Yep, I'm a girl!)