... About Due The Great swimmer ... :))
When my goldens Due and Robin were less than a year, we used to go swimming up to 40 minutes a day. Better to say, they were swimming while I was riding a water bike (a small catamaran driven by treadles). That was a good exercise for all of us. The summer of 2001 was a spell of fine weather with only occasional storms. It was one of those stormy days when the story happened.
Everything was just as usual in the beginning. We wended our way to the breakwater line, not to scare the vacationing people at the beach, and there we were swimming/riding back and forth along the shoreline. Then, Due spotted a seagull and rushed to catch it. Since I was busy, changing the route of my water bike (and it’s not as easy to navigate it under the side wind), I noticed her absence only in a few minutes. I stopped and was waiting for Due to come back.
Of course, Due hasn’t caught the seagull. She looked around in order to find us, but we were rocking on the waves about 900 feet behind her. That’s why she couldn’t see us clearly, but she caught sight of a roadster (ship on anchor stay). For her it looked familiar – just the same large white object. So, she turned her back to us and spurred forward to the ship.
All my screams: “ Due, we are here!”, “ Due come to me!”… as well as many others – were absolutely useless because of the cross-wind. And to chase her on my cumbersome bike was also impossible on the same reason.
Frankly speaking, I had no idea about what to do – to rush for her, to save Robin, to sit and wait or to burst into tears…Within 30 seconds I lost sight of her. In another couple of minutes I would have fainted myself.
It’s good that we have nice people in Odessa. I heard fishermen cries from the pier: “There she is … swimming right to the ship! You’d better run to the boat station for help!” And I “ran” to the station. I mean, I turned my bike and drove it to the shore at full tilt. When I reached the station I climbed on the watchtower and they gave me binoculars. I remember some “heavy swell” started to call the port authorities asking them to send a wireless to the ship for the crew to launch the lifeboat.
I saw every moment of what happened next in my binoculars very distinctly. Either the “heavy swell” has finally managed to call, or the crew themselves noticed the dog overboard … but they launched a small rescue boat with a man in it. And Due kept swimming speedily her way to the ship. She almost reached the boat when she realized that it’s not what she had expected it to be. That puzzled her so much that she made a U-turn and swam in the opposite direction – to the shore. Where … I gave her a hearty
reception. All in all, Due has spent 2 hours and a half swimming in the sea. I bet, everybody on that beach will remember us for a long time.
There is a sequel to the story. Not long ago (in august 2002) our Moscow friends came to spend vacations with us. They brought a swimming mattress with them. Three days before their arrival, my elder son Anthon was at the dolphin circus show, where a dolphin was riding him in a rubber boat around the pool.
One day we went to the beach all together. I fixed Due’s dog-collar to the mattress, settled Anthon on top of it and she was riding him on the mattress. I followed them side by side for some time. Then I decided to send her forward a little and retraced my way back. I thought I would command Due “Back to me” and we would play that way just for the fun of it.
It turned out to be vise versa. I cried our command: “Due come to me”, but she ignored it. She was driving my son on the mattress right to the open sea. Before my eyes I had a clear picture of what happened just a year ago. Yes, Due will come back, but how about my son?
Other than that, I was shocked by Due’s disobedience. I should say that after a year Due became a very grown-up and obedient dog. I don’t usually have to say twice before she follows the command. And I know she is a clever girl in general. Such behavior is absolutely non-typical to her. What’s more, there is nothing that might attract her attention in front of her – no seagulls, no people, no boats – just a deep blue sea around. Well, the sea was a bit rough and the cross wind was again in Due’s side. My son wore a life-jacket, so I had no serious fears about his life. My only fear was that it might be another 2-and-a-half-hour’s swim again.
And Due was rushing forward into the sea at a cruiser speed. “What’s going on?!” – I thought.
I was not going to run for help this time. I swam at my maximum speed chasing them, while our Moscow friends were organizing rescue team. Alla (name of my friend) found a guy who agreed to follow a dog with a mattress and give her a command “Come to me!” :))
When I caught up with them, it was far beyond the breakwater line. When I was about 90 feet away from them, I suddenly understood the situation. My almost 5-year-old son, who knows perfectly how to deal with dogs, has been giving the same loud command every now and then. The command was – “ Due! Go ahead!” He looked very proud of himself of his dog and of how he managed the situation. “Wow! That’s is really something!” – I thought later and even didn’t punish him for that.
Everything has ended to the best. I gave a whistle in the interim between my son’s commands and Due heard me at last. She carefully made a 180-degree turn and swam to me. I harnessed Robin to the same mattress and both dogs delivered us safely to the shore to our mutual pleasure.