Friday, August 27, 2010

The Dog Who Can't Swim

Chris and Rose On Blue Bell Knoll

I try really hard not to be too critical of others especially those of my own species. However, there are times when the story has to be told. Have you ever known a dog that can't swim? On our recent camp out, Berkeley, a golden retriever, almost drowned in Lower Bown's Reservoir. To my great embarrassment, his mistress had to jump in and rescue him. Since swimming comes naturally to me, I have struggled to understand why a retriever, supposedly bred to water, wouldn't know how to swim. Maybe Berkeley's problem is genetic, but I like to believe his coordination was temporarily affected by one of the sights or activities he was exposed to during our July camp out. Take a look at what he saw, and possibly you can tell me what caused his problem.

Setting Up Camp

It's a dangerous time for kids and dogs when setting up camp. Trailers have to be backed into place and leveled. All the cooking equipment has to be unloaded and hooked up to propane bottles. With all this going on, there is always a chance that a dog or small child might get run over or blown up. However, I don't remember any close calls. The only thing I saw that traumatized me a bit and might have scarred Berkeley was one obvious "redneck smiley face," but sights like this are fairly common when camping with the High Plateau bunch and shouldn't be that traumatic.

Biker Chicks

Highway 12 this time of year is a popular motorcycle route. The highway is crawling with doctors, dentists, lawyers, and businessmen fantasizing about the outlaw life. Occasionally, however, some tough looking characters show up in camp asking directions or trying to get a free meal. I'm not sure, but possibly these two Smokey Bear biker chicks who drifted into camp might have frightened Berkeley. They don't look all that tough to me, but unlike Berkeley, I am use to Dangerous' unusual friends and relatives.

Helping the Less Fortunate

Outlaw motorcyclists aren't the only strange characters who show up in camp. Maybe this needy senior citizen caused the stir that temporarily affected Berkeley's swimming ability. He peddled his bike into camp asking directions to the Yucatan which Preston provided along with a handout which you can tell from the picture the old man didn't need. However, you never know how characters like him might affect the young and impressionable. Maybe this old boy tried to kick Berkeley under the table when he was begging for treats.

Unsuspecting Target

All dogs are constantly looking for treats. Unsuspecting kids are usually our easiest targets. This kid is perfectly positioned for the classic grab and run. Snatching that sandwich might look easy, but I am smart enough to know that mom is probably hovering close by. I suspect that Berkeley isn't an experienced food snatcher like me, and may have been tempted to take the bait. If he did, he might have caught a swift kick in the ribs that seriously affected his confidence.

Batting Cleanup

When parents and grandparents are around, the smart dog waits patiently for the right opportunity. Getting treats without risk usually involves endearing yourself to your intended victim and the adults watching over the unsuspecting child. Cleaning up after a messy kid usually gets an "Oh, how cute!" from the child's parents and avoids a painful kick. Berkeley could take lessons from an old pro like me.

Berkeley and Aspen

Take a look at the big lug. From his picture, he appears perfectly capable of swimming, but for some reason he can't. I have given you all my theories about why he embarrassed me and all the other dogs in camp. Well, I actually have one more that I think is most plausible. Berkeley might be a retriever but he hangs around a known non swimmer. Grandpa, who tends the kids a lot, is not only a non swimmer but totally afraid of water. You probably think I am crazy, but I have watched both Berkeley and Grandpa try to swim. They share the same technique. Neither one kicks his legs. Grandpa uses only his arms to try and stay afloat, and immediately sinks to the bottom. Berkeley only uses his front paws with the same result. You might think I am crazy, but I think Grandpa has been giving Berkeley swimming lessons.

Remember, if you want to meet many of the characters from my blog, join us on September 4 for the "Grover Boyz" picnic. Hope to see you at Wildcat Guard Station at 4:00 PM until dark! Drive 17 miles south of Torrey on Highway 12 and look for the signs.


Becca Hatch said...

Unfortunately Kiki has inherited the Barratt swim genetics. After 4 WEEKS of swim lessons,her "report card" said, "Kiki, you are super cute, but keep practicing!" I pass on the same advice to Berkley.

Jay said...

My God Rosie, I am so embarrassed on your behalf. A retriever who can't swim is a social pariah indeed. Perhaps you should ask Dangerous to be a bit more selective in just what dogs are to be allowed. Of course if you ask him to not allow embarrassing humans, he would end up having no visitors and be pretty lonely at the Parasite Ranch.