Saturday, February 21, 2015

Lola and Lakes Do Not Mix!

Sometimes, it takes an accident to make you realize how fortunate you are!

From left: Daisy, Moses, Lola, Champ, Duke is in background.
January and February are the best time for me to exercise my Goldens. The weather is perfect and my life is post holiday calm.  I love this time with them.  We normally walk around a three mile lakefront path. They see a lot of people and animals and are tired enough to be content for the rest of the day.  I normally walk all four at a time.  As you can see from the above picture, Duke in the background does not like to walk on a leash, nor does he fetch.  He lives to hunt lizards and beyond that he is totally noncompliant and uninterested.

The Lake
This Wednesday changed my well established routine forever!  I park at a club and I normally let Lola run around a little because she loves to find the errant tennis ball from the courts beside the parking lot.  Pretty much we are a familiar site down there so nobody really minds this breach…well at least until now.  We are right next to a large lake and up until now it never occurred to me that Lola even realized it was there.  My dogs are never allowed to go in Lakes as that would be too dangerous as snakes and alligators are very common here.  On this day, Lola found the lake… I was waiting with the other three all leashed up and ready to go when I heard a shout that a dog was in the lake. I ran down the dock expecting Lola to be splashing in water lilies chasing ducks.  I was so irritated, thinking how mad my husband was going to be about me putting a wet, muddy dog in the car and worried because we are having the coldest temps here in four years! 

Lola was not only in the lake, but she had become disoriented and was swimming out into the center of this large lake with no idea how to get back.  I screamed, promised treats, banged her leash and after a minute or too she was out of earshot. I was hysterical and had almost resigned myself that I would have to watch my beloved Lola drown right in front of me.  

It was high noon… seriously it was! Nobody was on the tennis courts except two friends. As luck or divine intervention would have it; my sweet friend, Sheryl  recognized the panic in my voice and came running! Everybody knows how much I love my dogs and clearly she loves dogs too because without a moments hesitation she got two of the nice club workers to push us off in a canoe to save my sweet Lola Belle. Now would be a good time to note that it was very cold; we only had one paddle; I don't swim well, nor know how to canoe; and WE HAVE ALLIGATORS!!!
Thank God, Sheryl is ten years younger and ten feet taller than me and she paddled us out to the center and I was able to pull a very tired and frightened Golden Retriever into the canoe. We headed back Euphoric!! It was an I am woman hear me roar kinda moment. Not only were we wives and mothers but we were rescuers, first responders etc. etc.  We allowed ourselves a congratulatory moment to laugh and note that neither of us had been in "The Lake" and I gallantly offered my unselfish friend a kidney if she ever needed one.  Note: it is all fun and games until the canoe overturns! Lola started moving, and wait for it…. you guessed it!!! The canoe overturned! It all turned to …. well you know… in a moment, a flash, blink of an eye,  etc. etc.  The canoe was sinking and we were far from the dock! My husband questioned if we could touch the bottom; for the record, Sheryl tried to touch bottom and could not. We swallowed lake water, were frozen and we were most assuredly not all right! Sheryl was exhausted from doing all the paddling… remember we only brought one paddle and we were both in shock from the cold water. Apparently all of the lunchtime diners were watching from the club dining room.  "It was like watching a movie" was a common refrain. For a moment to be honest, I really was panicked ….I am NOT a good swimmer.…something I am going to fix!!! 

Sheryl recovered her wits and swam to the dock! Lola following her naturally instincts went with the survival of the fittest mentality and swam with her.  Sheryl hoisted her up to Giovanni,  (a member of the club staff) who took her to safety!  Giovanni, henceforth to be known as Gio the Gallant, had come to help from inside the club bringing life preservers and towels!  Where was I? I was on my back struggling to reach it to the dock…think infant survival swim float. It seems like it took forever, but it is amazing how pride, embarrassment, and fear of alligators all sweep away when you fear you are drowning!  

Finally, I made it to the dock and held on to a boat lift trying to recover, asthma in full bloom, legs unusable and thoroughly spent! On the dock, a worker answered my breathless questions, "Is Sheryl ok?'; "Is the dog ok?".  All answers being YES, he introduced himself in the most courtly manner., "I am Victor; this is my first day on the job. Can you grab my arm?" I hope he doesn't quit!!! Poor guy having to pull half drowned housewives out of the lake on day one!
A very tired Lola
Lola, finally, has some street cred with her pack. Sheryl has proven herself to be an unselfish, brave and loyal friend!….She has some street cred too!

 I have learned a few good lessons which I will write about later in Part Two.

 But at the end of the day, the ending is happy and we have a good story to tell.


Kim and Lola