Article Index

Willy's First Adventure

Throughout the week after we brought Willy home, I played with him every morning before work and every evening after work. By play I mean teaching him by playing with him. Four days after he came home with us, he was starting to figure out that Willy was his name. We also played with balls and together, we were having a ball. We also started going on some short walks and he had begun exploring our yard.

On Saturday, a week after he came home with us, I took Willy out to the marsh again. It turned out to be another bluebird day, with temperatures in the 40s. We arrived shortly after sun up and put the boat in the water, made sure I had everything and put Willy in too. He got busy exploring the boat, while I started rowing.

We had only gone a short ways when I noticed that large numbers of coots had arrived for a rest during their fall migration. There were literally hundreds of them, maybe even thousands. These birds are rather odd and don't like to fly except to migrate or move from one body of water to another.

I decided to row closer and check them out. We went about 200 yards or so when I heard little paws scrabbling on the bow. I turned around just in time to see Willy standing on the little triangle that joined the two sides of the boat into the bow.

With a leap that did my heart proud, Willy jumped into the water straight at the coots. Although I was amazed he did it at that early age (just 11 weeks old then) I also panicked. The water was only about 35 degrees and far too cold for an 11 week old puppy. I pulled hard on the oars twice and tried to keep an eye on Willy.

Willy hit water with a splash and immediately realized he'd made a big mistake jumping into that water. He turned around and came paddling along side the boat with eyes wide and full of fear. I reached over the side, grabbed him by the nape of the neck and hauled him in. He was already shivering violently and I was knew he was in trouble.

I had an extra sweater along and used it to towel him off as best I could. Then I tucked him inside my coat, zipped it up and started rowing back to the truck as fast as I could. The whole way, I could feel him shivering. I opened my coat again, got a hold of him and pushed him up inside my shirt against my bare skin. He was cold. There was no doubt about that. I zipped up again and started rowing.

About the time we got to the truck, his shivering had subsided a bit. He was still cold and would shiver a moment, then stop. Shiver, stop. I jumped out of the boat, pulled it up on shore and headed for the truck. I started it, turned the heat on high and put him on the floor next to the heater duct.

By the time I had the boat out of the water, Willy was a lot warmer. I had a couple of donuts for a snack later and fed him one. Not the best puppy fare, but loaded with sugar and fat—quick energy for a puppy. I drank some coffee while Willy soaked up the heat.

Soon, he was his old self. Curious, happy, tail curled over his back and investigating everything. We played "walk on the leash" for 10 minutes and decided to head for home. Willy slept curled up on my sweater on the floor all the way home.

Willy the Wonderful Water Dog had his first swim and first adventure. He learned some things and we went on.