Some dogs swim like fish; others swim like a ton of bricks. We learned that the hard way when we rented a house with a pool…
As one would expect, Retrieving breeds, Newfoundlands, Water Spaniels, and the like, are natural swimmers. Generally speaking, large chested breeds, such as Bulldogs and Pugs, do not make good swimmers. Dogs with short legs and long bodies, Corgis, and Dachshunds, may not be physically able to tread water, let alone swim. Heavily coated breeds may be too weighed down to be efficient swimmers, think Afghan Hounds. And while Toy breeds may be built for swimming, they may quickly feel chilled and are prone to panicking in water – not qualities you look for if you’re hoping Fido will make the Olympic swim team and win the 100-meter backstroke.
So we rent this house on Florida’s Intracoastal Waterway. The yard is closed in on three sides. The only side exposed is the water side. It’s a couple of foot drop off, which means that if one of us should jump or fall in, we would have no way to get out. Mom quickly sees the danger, as she does in everything. So, dad takes hammer to post and up goes a temporary fence. The yard has a lovely pool with stairs in it, perfect for a dog to climb in and out of after a lap or two. I go in constantly, swimming is my jam. It’s low impact and great for toning my athletic body. My Golden Retriever brother Hudson goes in if encouraged or if there is something to be retrieved. Rodney, the other Berger Picard in the family, has never been swimming. He’s curious about the pool, but shows limited interest in exploring it. The two smallest members of the family, Chinese Cresteds Morgan and Pepe plan to avoid any body of water at all costs. As so often happens, however, the best laid plans can fail miserably. One day while walking around the pool, Pepe gets distracted by who-knows-what and steps right into the pool. Yes, into the deep end. The folks are catching some rays ringside and see him fall in. They watch as he immediately starts to sink…dad springs into action, jumps in and pulls the little guy out before I can even get my wits about me. Even though Pepe is okay, Mom is panicked and makes him wear a flotation device anytime he’s in the backyard. How humiliating for him. The folks aren’t worried about Morgan, however, she absolutely will not walk near the pool. Again, even the best laid plans fail. Mom’s laying on a pool chair, watching Morgan approach, when – splash! In she falls, in the deep end of course. Mom watches in horror as Morgan starts to sink and little air bubbles come out of her nose. She jumps in lickety-split and pulls poor little Morgan out. Much like Pepe after his unintended dip, Morgan is no worse for the wear, but is now destined to don a flotation device when in the backyard.
They say that three is a charm and this time is no exception. Again during dad’s poolside absence, while mom is working on her tan, Rodney gets a bit too close to the edge and sure enough, “deep end of the pool, meet Rodney.” He initially goes under, but thankfully, he’s watched my swimming prowess intently and promptly begins doggy paddling. Crisis averted. Mom breathes a sigh of relief and tries to guide him to the stairs. Rodney will have none of that and instead opts to exit at the exact location where he went in. Mom helps him out, and all’s well, no flotation humiliation for him.
The moral of the story is: if you can’t swim, stay out of the deep end.