Monday, July 7, 2008

Chasing Ducks

How obedient is your dog? This weekend I found out the answer, for Kelly, is "not very."
We had her up at her favorite spot, my in-law's camp on a lake. She loves the smells and sights there, and I love watching her come alive. Maybe a bit too alive this time. The camp is too close to the road to allow her to run free there, but we usually have her on a really long rope that allows her to explore all over. I got overconfident for a minute and allowed her off the rope. She seized the opportunity and ran around, nose to the ground, following a zig zag trail of some critter. Then she spotted the ducks and skedaddled after them and plunged into the lake. Kelly likes to swim, but I could see she was fast getting too far out and knew she'd soon tire. I ran to the water's edge and called and called to her--she was immediately out way over my head--and she didn't even look my way. Just swam steadily toward the ducks, which kept swimming out deeper and deeper. I must have sounded like a lunatic calling and screaming to no avail. Mike and Andy grabbed the rowboat and paddled after her. By the time they got out a little bit, I think Kelly realized she was in trouble, perhaps feeling exhausted and worried she couldn't keep up any more. She was gasping and panting, and had that frightened look in her eyes. "She can't make it!" I called. As the rowboat neared, she tried to swim away from it, probably afraid it would hit her. Finally Mike pulled up beside her, Andy grabbed her collar and guided her toward the dock. There is no beach there, only mucky mud, so I leaned over the edge of the dock and dragged her up onto the wood platform beside me. She was very tired and didn't struggle as we walked back up the hill to the camp. I know it was only her instinct to chase the ducks, but it was scary nonetheless. For the rest of the day she slept soundly, barely moving. I guessed she was probably dreaming of her big adventure.


  1. This is when you need what's called an Emergency Recall. It's a come-to-me word that you ONLY use in dangerous situations. Their names or the usual "come" can be ignored (if overused or not used well). Hence the need for a special word that means stop what you're doing this second.

    Personally, I use "NO!" since I almost never say "no" to Lilly in any normal context.

    Once as she raced unfettered toward a road with cars coming, it saved her life. She was actually headed toward a dog friend, but the road was between them.

    There are classes you can take called something like The Really, Really, Really Reliable Recall.

  2. Thanks Roxanne, that is a really helpful reply. I admit I became lax in training Kelly, when I know I shouldn't have. Like children, dogs need boundaries and limits. Thank you for a good suggestion.


Kelly and Ike say thank you for your comments!