26: Daffy Dog

26: Daffy Dog

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: I Can't Believe My Dog Did That!

Daffy Dog

Praise the sea; on shore remain.

~John Florio

Gloria was a dog of nondescript origin. If one looked closely her spiky whiskers, one could say Terrier. Further study might reveal a bit of Shepherd. But in terms of body size, leg build, coat type, or any other normal canine species indicator, it was impossible to tell what kind of dog she was. One thing Gloria was not was a water dog. From the day we brought her home, it was clear she was not in any way related to any breed of dog that considered a body of water a wonderful topographical element for play, exercise, or work. Gloria’s fear of water was especially unfortunate, and humorous, since we lived on a beautiful cove off the Chesapeake Bay.

We had eagerly taken our new pup out on her first boat ride, certain that she would love the smell of the salty air, the wind flowing through her coat, and the gentle rocking of a boat plowing through yielding waters. However, as soon as our boat pulled away from the pier, Gloria hid under a seat at the back of the boat. She shivered with such terror that we turned around and headed right back to the pier. We abandoned our dreams of owner/canine fishing trips.

In due course, Gloria adapted to her new home and she occasionally walked through the cove’s shallow waters to reach our next-door neighbor, who enjoyed Gloria’s company. But come time to fire up the boat motor, Gloria would head immediately up the sloped lot and far away from any human notion of a trip on the Bay that would include her.

One day was especially memorable and has gone down in family lore. It was the day Gloria had a run-in with some local waterfowl. Female ducks often laid their eggs on our waterfront lot, and incubated them for up to three weeks. Gloria suffered the ducks fitfully, but left the nesting mallards alone upon command from her human owners.

At some point the ducklings would hatch, large and ready to walk down to the water, and then launch themselves into a swim as directed by their mother. One day, when a new batch of ducklings was ready for its first swim, it was just too much for Gloria. She couldn’t ignore the mama duck marching proudly down toward the water, her babies all following behind single file, loud and strong.

Despite our cries for the dog to stay, Gloria jumped up and chased the duck and her hatchlings down to the pier. The duck family quickly jumped into the water before the most amazing thing happened. Gloria jumped in right behind them.

Gloria could not swim a stroke. The ducks, on the other hand, were all quite handy in the art of the swim, even the freshly hatched ducklings.

It would have been sad had it not been so hilarious. For there was Gloria, flop-flopping some kind of variation of the doggie paddle that did little to keep her head above the water.

Mama Duck, meanwhile, did not try to push her youngsters to speed off in all disorganized directions.

Some of the ducklings found themselves close to the flopping dog, but the wise mama duck remained calm, spinning in the water to check her children by slow rotations of her wings in the water. The mother duck noted the dog and the dog’s total inability to even stay afloat, much less be any danger to her or her youngsters.

Our entire family ran down to the pier to try to stop any damage to ducklings by an angry dog. As we watched the drama below, there wasn’t even time to laugh. While Mama Duck treaded the water, her babies safety behind her wings, Gloria had to be saved. She was gasping and sputtering, her head disappearing frequently under the water.

Her rescue wasn’t easy — it involved a net, a docked boat, and long arms, but we managed to rescue the gasping dog. All the while the duck and her family stayed close to watch.

It was only after Gloria lay splat upon the pier, wet and breathing hard, that Mama Duck checked her youngsters, all excited and in single file behind her, and turned to swim off — far away from the silly dog who dared to chase a duck into a duck’s element.

Gloria never went into the water, or even near the water, after that. Ducks continued to lay and incubate their eggs on our lot, but they had nothing to fear from our dog.

Gloria watched with wary eye the many hatchlings that marched pass her through the years, content that soon they would be in the water and the insult of their intrusion on her territory would soon be but a distant memory.

~Pat Fish

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