|Can You Swim?|
Our new friend hung out on our cul-de-sac throughout the day, wandering in and out of my screened porch while the door was propped open for easy in and outs to do yard work and such. Tanner and Oliver greeted him nicely and they had a non-eventful afternoon... until....
Later, while Tanner was on the porch enjoying some fresh air after dinner, he came running inside with great anxiety evident in his body language. He seemed to want to show me something. It was a Lassie moment. You know:
I followed Tanner to the porch only to find our earlier visitor struggling in the pool. He clearly was not a swimmer, even though he apparently lives nearby in this densely waterway-rich area of Central Florida that we call home. I managed to salvage his roughly 60 pound brawn by grabbing that beautiful leather collar and guiding him to the steps where I lifted him, with the help of the water, to the first step. Whew!
At this point the poor fella was spent. I don't know how long he was in the pool, but the evidence of his slip and fall was found at the screen door, which he pushed his way through in order to visit Tanner again--apparently. The fall had to be traumatic, as a chair and a flower pot went into the drink with him.
It took him a while to rest up under my Elm tree before he decided he was ready to head for home, wherever that is. I wanted to attach a note to his collar:
Needless to say, I would have felt horrible if I had found a drowned dog in my pool, despite the fact that he plunged through my screen door. I hope his owners would have too.
All dogs need some basic swimming experiences; most do actually. Having some water stamina and the understanding to look for steps in a pool seems critical to those that have water nearby in any form. Even our sea-walls along the lake prevent exit unless you can find a ladder or steps to the surface. This is definitely a learned skill.
My Papillon, Oliver, is no Olympian. He'd probably prefer NOT to swim at all. But with a pool and a lake in his back yard, I have not given him a chance to get his way. As soon as he was old enough and it was warm, we taught him to swim, and to know where the steps were in the pool.
With some regularity, I place him in the pool at different locations along the edge and tell him to swim to the steps. He always knows which way to go, and can even do a 180 degree turn to head in the right direction. Yay Oliver! At 10 lbs., he could easily be knocked into the pool when he and Tanner play on the pool deck, so drown proofing Oliver seemed a necessity.
I've linked to my post on teaching Oliver to swim, as well as one about helping him learn to find the steps. These outline my easy-does-it approach for anxious dogs who are not eager to be amphibious. Yet you could take this approach with a young lab as well. Who doesn't like to be taught a scary skill with patience and gentleness?
This drown-proofing cause is near and dear to my heart here in Central Florida, where lakes are everywhere and swimming pools...ditto. Whether your area has lakes, rivers, retention ponds, or the ocean, your dog should have some basic swimming skills, and be exercised enough to maintain treading water for several minutes until he is able to find a shallow area, steps, or another way out of the wet stuff. Please don't wait till it's too late!
Before I close, let me mention that even Oliver had some thoughts on this topic. He's shared them at "Water Safety for Us Pups" at 5 Minutes for Fido. There's a video there of a dog saving another dog from a swimming pool. Lucky dog. Hopefully it won't be yours.
|© Carrie Boyko|
Oliver Struts his Stuff!