We took Zelda to Minnehaha Dog Park this weekend, which covers 6.5 acres of trails along the Mississippi and is basically doggie heaven. In addition to perennial classics like tush sniffing and stick chasing, they get to slosh around in the river. Which is a huge deal, if you are a puppy. Zelda, Puppiest of Them All, couldn’t decide whether she wanted to run, jump, roll, slide, sloosh, sploosh, or swim. In the end she pretty much settled on zooming around in circles and trying to make friends with everyone, both man and beast.
People were mostly strolling along around us at a leisurely speed so their dogs could play, but suddenly a woman ran by yelling, “DUKE! DUKE! OVER HERE! HEEEEEEEEEEEERE!” Everyone sort of paused to look in the direction toward which she was flailing all of her body parts, only to see her dog calmly swimming down the middle of the Mississippi River.
By the time I processed the information that a hundred pound dog was in front of me trying to reenact The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, he had already passed us. Because the Mississippi has a strong current. Because it is a large river. Nothing should be swimming down the middle of a large river unless it is made of fish or boat. I’m no science expert, but dogs are typically made of neither. Not a good idea, dog!
Duke’s owner was running to keep up with him, and soon we couldn’t even hear her anymore. Someone behind us said, “What if he ends up across the river?” and someone else said, “What if he doesn’t?” I squirmed thinking about worst case scenarios. Obviously no one was going to let anything like that happen. But no one seemed able to figure out how to help them.
So then, just because the situation was starting to feel a little dull, a barge rounded the corner right above us. At the same time, three speedboats started coming up from the other direction, about a quarter-mile down the river. I’m pretty sure everyone standing on the beach instantly had the same thought–“Oh god, what is going to happen to this dog?” We couldn’t tell if any of the boats were close enough to Duke or his owner to communicate with them, or close enough to each other to figure out some kind of strategy.
After ten minutes of waiting for something to happen, a megaphone on the barge switched on and said (to the speedboats, presumably), “UM, CAN SOMEONE PICK UP THAT DOG? WE’LL JUST WAIT.”
Unexpected barge heroism!
It took the speedboat people another 20 minutes to scoop the poor pooch out of the drink, and one of them got a tooth-shaped hole in the hand for his trouble. But they dropped him off and were soon on their merry way, almost no harm done. They get, like, triple points in my book– yanking a soaking wet, huge, exhausted, dog into a boat is not high on Dena’s List of Most Excellent Fun Times.
By the time we made our slow, zig-Zelda way down the riverbank, everything had calmed down and the crowd had dispersed, but the woman and her dog were still resting. I stopped and asked how Duke was doing and she said, “He’s totally fine, but he’s not my dog. I’m dog sitting!”
She told us his owners said he loves the dog park and it would be fun to take him, but they neglected to mention that he also loves to swim. When Mr. Speedboat brought him back, he gave her a long lecture on how throwing balls too far into the water is dangerous and she should be more careful. She just said, “We didn’t bring a ball.”
When the Gentleman Caller and I got home, we practiced “Come!” with Zelda for a very, very long time.