Thursday, September 20, 2007

The dog who couldn't swim

Dog overboard!

Laura wrote yesterday about teaching her new puppy, Luka to swim. It put me in mind of an incident with our dog last month that surprised me greatly.

We walk along the Grand River several times a week and our dog loves to walk in the water. The river in our area is shallow and the banks we walk along have gentle slopes. Near the hospital are a couple of docks used by the local rowing club for launching their boats. One evening, Becka and I were standing at the end of a dock with Dakota when he decided to jump into about three feet of water. When he surfaced, he was in a panic and immobilized with fear. Thankfully, his leash was on and we could keep his head above water. I could not believe our dog was unable to swim back to shore. He managed to get his front paws onto the dock and Becka lifted all 65 pounds of him out of the water. The flow of the river was slowed by the docks and the surface was covered with algae, scum and weeds. Dakota was a disgusting, smelly mess and needed a good bath once we got home.
I assumed all animals instinctively knew how to swim. Don't all dogs do the dog-paddle? Dakota is a lab cross, a breed that should be good at swimming. Our local news featured a story recently about pet drownings and reported that many animals die each year in family pools.

Dakota watching our daughter play soccer

Dakota still enjoys walking in the river, but we will have to watch that he does not get in over his head. He turned nine years old this month and is likely too old to learn new tricks.

On a different note....Ragweed season is drawing to a close here. Pollen counts are low again, but a short time ago, they were extremely high. The Weather Network was reporting pollen counts between 120 to 130 for our area a couple of weeks ago. Any count over 80 is considered to be high. I had written about Becka's allergy diet, and she stuck with it until last weekend. She had only two bad days that required use of an antihistamine. After she lifted Dakota out of the water, she had an attack. The water was covered with pollen and she experienced burning skin as well as respiratory symptoms. We are not sure what triggered the other bad day. The dietary restrictions did make a significant difference for her but she is happy to be eating wheat and dairy products in moderation again.


  1. I thought all dogs could swim too, but i guess there's a few exceptions to the rule.

  2. Anonymous7:38 pm GMT-4

    I two thought all dogs could swim? Hmm

  3. Glad Dakota is ok and that you were all there to rescue him.
    I thought that all dogs would want to swim--so soon after we got our pool, I lifted our English setter in, and she panicked. She managed to claw me good--repaying my tricking her into the water.
    I also discovered, soon after we got our newest cat, that she can swim. She fell in the pool, promptly swam across to the other side and climbed. Very indignant, but safe.

  4. Poor Dakota covered in slimy green goop! Looks pretty happy though.


    I thought all dogs could swim too, but I've read recently that inexperienced (or young) dogs mostly just paddle with their front paws which I guess tires them easily.

    Glad you and Becka were there to rescue him.

  5. Dakota looks shocked in that picture! I'm glad he's OK. I thought all dogs (esp. labs) could instinctively swim! I'm surprised. Bella swims but Chloe has never had the opportunity.

  6. How scary... glad Dakota is safe. I suppose it's not in every dog's genes to swim?

  7. I thought all dogs could swim, also. We had a sad incident with our in ground pool - a cat drowned in it. The ladder was available but I think and animal swims to exhaustion. After this happened, Wayne built a ramp which we hooked on the steps every night. Now you can buy custom ramps for this very purpose.We never did find out who lost their kitten to our pool.The pool had a 4' fence around it but no problem for a cat.

  8. Poor Dakota! (and poor Becka for the unpleasant reaction to her water rescue of Dakota!) I hope they're both doing OK now.

    We have German Shorthairs and they will go into the water till it's up to their tummies and then they turn around and head right back out. We don't live near water, so they've never had much opportunity to experience it either.

  9. Larry- Maybe all people were meant to swim too, but fear stops us.

    Monarch- Now I am thinking my dog is impaired ;-)

    KGMom- Panic immobilized our dog too. Perhaps he could have paddled ashore if he wasn't expecting us to rescue him.

    Laura- He wasn't happy for sure! Swimming with arms only makes me feel tired just thinking about it.

    Mary- Shock is a good word. Our last dog, a shepherd-lab cross swam strongly. In fact he would swim out to the middle of the lake to chase our boat.

    Jayne- We were so close to shore, he wasn't in any real danger. I Am sure a wild dog could swim. Who knows what we breed out of our domestic dogs.

    Jean- That is exactly the type of story that was featured on the news. Animals have difficulty getting out of straight sided enclosures. Sometimes wild animals fall into pools too. How kind of you to set up a ramp.

    Ruthie- Dakota will readily go in water up to his tummy and he really doesn't mind a bath. I guess early exposure to swimming is important.


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