Posts Tagged ‘Cabin’
We had to fish our dog Scout out of a pond this week.
Well, truth be told, she eventually walked out when she was tired enough.
Joni had taken her running around Golden Ponds – a group of very small lakes a mile or so west of our house. Joni stopped on the running trail to talk with a couple of old work colleagues. The geese on the lake were too much for Scout to sit patiently. She worked her way out of her collar and dived in.
Joni gave me a call after Scout had been in the water for a good fifteen minutes. Scout wouldn’t come out. She came close to shore a few times, we presume to rest a bit. But, the moment she caught her breath she was back out to the middle of the pond to chase the geese. The geese appeared entirely unperturbed.
It’s not the first time we’ve had to fish Scout out of the water – for real.
For nearly two years, we had two golden retrievers – Lady and Scout.
They are sisters born in Rawlins County. A third sister lives across the street and a half-sister two blocks down. There are at least six Rawlins County bred goldens in Longmont.
I thought, contrary to Joni’s better judgment, that two dogs would be better than one. I figured we’d be gone from home much more with our kids being older. And, dogs aren’t meant to be alone.
Things didn’t work out quite as well as I hoped. Joni did her very best not to say, “I told you so.”
We invested in training but the dogs – together – would do nothing but wrestle. Walks were nearly impossible because they spent all their time trying to get close to each other. We couldn’t let them in to the main part of the house because they would crash into furniture, knock over lamps and run the kids over – especially Ada Grace.
Ada Grace is our animal lover. She kept her distance because, together, they were too rough. This is a gal who eagerly swims with wild dolphins and holds caimans and snakes. Any arguments I made that things were okay rang hallow each time Ada Grace asked for the dogs to be taken away.
I was last to come to terms with the obvious. We’re a one big-dog family. We found a friend who already had an eight year-old golden and lots of time to spend training dogs. He eagerly adopted Lady. Joni sees Lady on a regular basis. John, her new master, is a regular at Buzz Coffee where Joni works. Lady is a regular, too.
Scout adjusted to Lady’s absence just fine. We were surprised and relieved. Scout has taken a shine to our cat, Scribbles, who occasionally returns the affection.
Scout enjoys spending more time in the house with the kids. Walks are mostly a pleasure – with the occasional foray into ponds. We shed a few tears when Lady went away but it’s working out as well as we could imagine.
There will be some events we remember forever.
We took the dogs to the Mickey cabin for Martin Luther King Day weekend when they were just over a year old. It was their first winter trip to the cabin as grown dogs.
We headed for the lake as we always do, after we unpacked our car. I took the snow shovel to scoop an area for an ice rink. It was cold that day, less than 20 degrees, but the mountain sun was bright.
The lake by the cabin is typically eight to twelve inches thick from December through March. It might have been thicker on this visit. There’s one area of the pond that has no ice at all. There are two air pumps in the middle of the lake to circulate water to support the fish.
The area without ice was smaller than usual, a testament to the series of very cold days. The water island was populated by a solitary goose.
We got busy scooping snow and skating. There were nine of us there. The five in our family and the four Browns – Tom, Kristin, Madison and Jackson – who joined us for the weekend. We let the dogs run free just as we did in the summer and the same way we let Babe run in the winters when she was alive.
I was still scooping snow when Madison and then Joe started yelling, “The dogs. The dogs are in the water.” I was facing the shore, shoveling snow off our “rink.” I turned around and saw both dogs struggling to get back on the shelf of ice that enclosed the small pocket of open water.
It was immediately clear that the dogs were not going to make it out of the water on their own. One, I think it was Lady, went under for a second or two. The water was very cold.
I acted on instinct. I kept the snow shovel in my hand and headed immediately for the center of the pond. I didn’t really have a plan.
As I approached the open water, I got down on my knees and then my belly. I could see Scout was having trouble keeping her head above water. Lady was thrashing around. They had no hope of pulling themselves up.
The ice continued to support me as I reached the edge. I was beginning to gain confidence that I could do this. I discarded the snow shovel and reached for Scout’s collar. I grasped it. I began to pull. She was halfway back on the ice. That’s when the sheet broke and we both went in.
Things happened fast. I didn’t even think. I grabbed Lady. She was closer now. I heaved her to the ice and she ran. I turned and found Scout and gave her a push, too. She followed Lady in a blur. I made my way to the edge of the ice. I pulled once, twice. The ice gave way both times. On my third attempt, I reached thick ice again. The recent snow gave me a good grip and I easily pulled myself out.
I was in the water for ten seconds at most. Boy, was I cold. I didn’t hesitate. I started back immediately for the cabin. I could feel the chill setting in and I wanted nothing more than a hot shower.
I was feeling a little proud. The dogs were safe. But my balloon was burst the moment Joni reached my side, “ That was one of the dumbest things you’ve ever done. The kids were terrified.”
I made a feeble protest but she was probably right. Still, inside I felt a little proud. In a show of support, Tom gave me a thumbs up.
We did learn some lessons that day and are better prepared. Scout is not allowed near the lake in the winter. Joe insists upon it. He will not even allow her to visit on the leash.
We also checked out the boats and canoes stored by the lake all year round. There are one or two that aren’t chained down. We figure we’ll use those if we need to make a water rescue in the future.
In the end, it worked out pretty well. My “stupidity” did not end tragically. The dogs are safe. And, perhaps best of all, we’ve got another story to tell.
We are going to the Mickey cabin in a couple of weeks for a three day weekend. It is one our favorite places to go as a family. It is especially fun when extended family or friends are able to join us. It’s literally a memory making machine.
One of our favorite winter past times at the cabin is skating on the lake. Joe and I spend hours together, and with friends when they are there, playing ice hockey and speed skating. I’ve learned some valuable lessons. For instance, don’t lean back when making a slap shot in hockey. You’ll fall on your backside if you do.
Joe gives me a head start so I can stay competitive in our speed skating races. I’ve also learned that if I hold my arms out wide it’s a lot harder for him to pass me on the corners. He usually waits ‘til the last lap to dart by. He’s a kind hearted soul. After each victory he says, “I’m sorry Dad. But, you did really good.”
We take breaks from our games to check on Johnson’s ice fishing efforts. He has a “fish TV” to see what’s below. It must help. For years, I never saw him catch a thing. First time out with the TV he caught four. Ada Grace made him throw them all back.
Inevitably, while down on the ice, one of the kids will say, “Dad, tell us that story about Silas and Paul.”
You’ve heard it 20 times, I’ll say.
“Just tell it, please.”
And, so I do…
We went camping out at Steele’s Pond one winter. We liked to camp in the cold. We must have, because we went back year after year. Our parents would drop us of at the Sportsmen’s Club in Blakeman and we’d hike the rest of the way in – about three or four miles, I’d guess. Little did I know that I was walking by your mom’s house on the way to the ponds.
One winter, I got sick while we were camping. Since we didn’t have cell phones, we couldn’t call anyone. I spent half the night outside the tent. I could barely make it back to Blakeman the next morning. Turned out I had a fever of 104 degrees.
“Dad, what about Paul and Silas?”
Right. Paul and I camped together the most. We spent one winter day huddled over a transistor radio straining to hear the 1974 NCAA Final Four. I was nine and Paul was ten. KU lost to UCLA in the consolation game. It was the year that UCLA’s string of seven consecutive championships came to an end. It may have been one of the last times they played a consolation game.
“Dad, what about Paul and Silas and the lake?”
Okay. Okay. Paul, Silas, our friend Todd, and I camped out at Steele’s Pond one winter when I was 15 or 16. I had to be older because Silas drove us to the campground.
After we set up camp, we headed up the hill to one of the ponds. It had been cold for several weeks but it was warm on this day. We tested the ice on the pond and decided it was thick enough to play some hockey.
We found a few sticks and crushed an aluminum can to make a puck. We were having a great time. Paul and I were on one team. Silas and Todd on the other.
At one point in the game, Paul hit the “puck” toward the edge of the pond. Silas and I raced to get it. Silas was way ahead of me so I let up and turned around. Suddenly, I heard a loud crack. Then a splash. I turned back around and saw that Silas had fallen through the ice.
Silas, arms flailing, immediately began to yell, “Help me. Help!”
I got down on my stomach just like we learned in scouts and started to inch my way toward him. I would try to pull him out even though he was much bigger than me.
That’s when I heard Paul yell from the other side of the pond, “Stand Up!”
Silas climbed to his feet and discovered the water was not quite knee deep.
“Dad, was Silas scared?”
Well, that was kind of the end of the story.
“Dad, did you think he was going to drown?”
Just like every time, that’s all I’ve got.
“Dad, did you keep playing hockey or did you quit?”