HARRISON – Very few area residents are unaware of the dramatic dog rescue efforts that took place over the course of six weeks and ended Sept. 21 with the retrieval of a 5-year-old Great Dane named Zaria. That dog had been stranded on the 13-acre sinking marsh island in Cranberry Lake. Multiple efforts by many people stretched out over the weeks, but it was ultimately Rudi Hicks and Bob Dodson of Clare County Animal Control, aided by lake resident Frank Johnson, who effected Zaria’s rescue.
It came to the Cleaver’s attention recently that just two weeks after the rescue of Zaria, another dog had fallen into Cranberry Lake and was again saved through the efforts of Clare County Animal Control.
Dodson explained that he was home working on some drywall when the call came from the Clare County Sheriff Department that evening saying there was another dog on the island. His first thought was someone was just fooling around, but when he got out there (in the dark and cold of October) and stood on the porch of the person who had called it in [Vickie and Bob Buckley], he heard what to him sounded like a duck or a goose.
“I got their flashlight, walked down, and just in the cattails south of where we caught Zaria I could see something moving and there was white,” Dodson said. Realizing it was a dog, he scrambled to go retrieve and don his waders. He then found a canoe and was provided a paddle by Bob Buckley.
“I had my catch pole and paddled over there,” he said. “The guy onshore kept the flashlight on me so I could see.”
But it was quickly apparent the rescue would not be a simple chore.
“Between the catch pole and the cattails and everything else, I couldn’t get in there,” Dodson said. “I got the catch pole around the dog, and as I was trying to get the dog in the canoe, the dog hit the corner of the canoe and pushed back. The catch pole slipped off [which shifted Dodson’s balance] and I went over.”
And there he was – in the cold, cold water in waders – in a sinking marsh – in the dark.
“I don’t know what I was standing on, but I stood up and I thought ‘I’m gonna die – this is not how I want to die.’”
Fortunately, the canoe had stayed upright, and he grabbed the corner of it and stood on what he believed was a tree stump root.
“I walked up and stood the canoe sideways and grabbed the dog by the scruff and put the dog in the canoe,” he said. “God willing, I was able to get up on that stump and I got back in the canoe.”
Dodson was quick to attribute the favorable outcome to factors outside his control.
“Sheer luck,” he said. “For some reason that stump was there, and I think the dog was kind of hanging on it.”
He then paddled back to the dock where a leash was put on the dog and the leashed dog was put on the dock.
It wasn’t until after he was back on shore that Dodson learned the dog was blind. Frank Johnson, who had helped with the rescue of the Great Dane, informed Dodson who owned the dog.
“So, we went over and knocked on the door, asked if it was his,” Dodson said. “He was crying and thankful.”
The best guess as to how the small dog got into trouble was that it had wandered off, went of the dock and swam until it hit cattails.
“I think he said the dog went missing that morning,” Dodson said. “So the dog was in that water for roughly 10-12 hours. Lucky. Very lucky. Thank God for them [the Buckleys] being there, because I don’t think there were any houses next to them, and that dog would have froze.”
Dodson described the dog as “a blinder than blind, little white terrier mix” and “completely wet from top to bottom.” That described not only its disability, but also a body size which could not have maintained a survival level of body heat for much longer in the cold lake water.
“And thank God that dog could still make those noises,” he said. “For being out there for 10 hours and not being able to see anything and to whine like that...”
It has not been lost on Dodson how remarkable it was to have been able to take another stranded dog of the island. Yet it is really just another of the many instances when Animal Control steps in to solve unusual problems – such as the preceding day’s excursion into the City of Clare to chase cattle which had made their escape from a stock trailer.
Yup. Just another day.
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