This will be the story of a training session which was an important lesson in love and danger. SAR is a study in reflex and built-in responses. It was this reflex that saved Magic and myself from death.
Ok, I was going to write a funny story, but I just have to write the scary one first...
Magic, my bestest and funniest buddy almost went to the Rainbow Bridge...and I was right behind him...so take a DEEP breath and then read cause you'll be holding it!!
The call came at 7:30. A Search ...someone had brought a "hand" into the police station and could we please come by and see if we could locate the rest.
I called in the rest of the unit and started putting dogs away in their crates. Loaded my dogs, bags and water and headed out to get Sharon and her dogs. I like to have company when I drive and so does she, so we often share. Just as I pulled into her drive the phone rang....never mind, it's a bear paw...not human.
Now, the dogs have seen us load, and they know its a search, so we decided to go for a "mock" search and to check out the boat ramps as well. We have a 36,000 acre wildlife management sections with a lake on three sides. So we drove to all the water launch sights and one I had never been to...it looked great and perfect. We said ‘Hey...wonder where THAT road goes’...so we parked the Van, belled the dogs and headed out!! Wonderful and woody with a lake view on the right. The Schips ran ahead and back for the treats for coming in...their range is about 100 yards or more...
As we rounded the bend, we could see some construction and building materials. I called in Magic and she called in Bubba...our two nosy parkers. Pete and Fox have more control and could proceed without leashes. I was surprised that the Game and Fish was building a house WAYYY out here, and a new dock. WELLL the dogs were thirsty and we walked out the road, turned the others lose since to one was around, and started down the steep hill. All raced ahead and for the water. Soon I could hear the bell of only one Schip..Fox. He came when called.
As I reached the boat dock I looked for him and there 15 to 20 feet out from shore he was trapped by a log jam. HORRORS how will I ever get out there?? I call...he tries, bless him, to climb on a log...I realize I will have to move down the shore, but that means going UP the road and then across the brush to the other area...I run...tearing at the offending brush till I reach the water...he is just visible above the water...eyes plead for help...I enter the water and start walking log to log...careful... as I too can become trapped and be in the same fix...I call gently to keep him focused.
I slip and start to climb OVER logs till I find a solid platform and all the logs are now small...he is still 8 inches too far for me to reach...and the water is now over my head if I fall in... I am so frantic, but start on hands and knees to crawl along this 12" log...moving hand and knees... calling him to "come this way"...hoping he will follow me to clearer water. He starts to turn and slips beneath the water...I scream for Sharon...Come Help, I am losing him...up...and he starts to swim...but he is tired and low in the water...He reaches for the log and starts to pull himself up...hangs and rests...good.
Now, I wait and Sharon is on the shore behind me...She tells me to wait...let him rest...I wait and see him start to move... rolls and he goes under...MAGIC! I almost jump, but the head comes back to the surface and his eyes are steady and pleading. He swims as I start to move...I can see a place he might go through to swim closer if I can get him to follow...I am in great danger...if I fall in, I will be in BIG trouble and I wear the heavy search boots...no way to remove them. I am in long pants and carry my pockets full of junk for the search.
Logs dip and bob as I move them looking for the right combination so he can slip thru...just as he reaches the opening, the waves I make open him a small channel and he slips through...I cheer and call with excitement...blood pumping I reach forward ...please God don't let me slip...snag his ruff( thank you he has a great one) and pull him to me on the log! SAFE...I hug him tight. I turn so carefully and place him on the log and wait for the shaking reaction to slow down...he runs off and across the darn logs to Sharon on the shore...
It is at this time I realize FOX is right there beside me the whole time and I wonder how I had missed him. Eyes for Magic only...Focused I guess...holding him with love and obedience from going under.
My journey is only half over...I have to get back. WHERE? I start back on hands and knees to the starting point...all looks different. Sharon talks gently from the shore...she knows I am in danger most now...I have to find the solid logs to step on or I am going to have to be rescued, too! She throws me a stick to test the depth. I push it between the logs and lift...it comes to my chest! I will have to find ONE more log to get into the shore!! I push at the logs...they go down...I hit one and the stick breaks, She finds me a better stick...and as I wait, the darn dogs come back out to me across the logs. She calls them back, and I find THE log...a BIG step, but I use the stick to balance as I first stand up and then turn to face the shore and the log. I reach and step...it sinks a few inches and holds...
I now stand on a 6" tree and look to shore...I test the depth again...thigh deep and safety waits...I step and walk over and on the logs...slipping into the water up to my thighs...wet clear through, but SAFE beside my darn happy dogs and Sharon...We made it.
Reaction begins to set in as I climb the hill back to the road...the happy black beasts bounding ahead...safe...I love them. I reach the new building and sit on the new deck to stop my rubber knees from buckling!! Magic lays beside me...and Bubba comes to touch me and then Magic, buddies...and he makes sure we're safe and goes out and checks the new place out. Magic and I rest beside my friend and talk it out...Fox gently nudges my arm.
I had done all the right things...even though they were dangerous. She had backed me to come to my rescue, but stayed Safe to render aid and encouragement. Neither can think of a better way...I am "HIGH" with adrenaline...and as usual, I have beat the odds and walked away from the edge...but this time I am tired and sore from the close call. I had felt the panic start...creeping up and taking control...I had looked deep in Magic's eyes and found strength and peace to do what must be done. I had to weigh the odds of survival...Could I stop and watch him drown...or would I jump and die too...in the end, I'll never know as I used my brain to try everything else first and we found the paths...with God's help. Panic kills and Magic had reminded me of that as he quietly awaited my commands. Trust.
Lesson: I know how and why people die trying to save a child or loved one. I walked back from the edge with new knowledge and understanding. A lesson in life for the searcher to help him understand the cause and effect of love and danger. I loved my Schip, my pride and joy, and if I had done that for a dog (partner) what will I do for my fellow man? Scary.
So hug all those loved ones, furred or human and say, "I love you"...and then turn the eyes to heaven and say a word of quiet thanks for the strength He gives us.
Pat and the Sarschips (Yawn...Oh Mom, we’re fine and LOOK I still can walk the logs...MAGIC COME HERE) (hug, hug)