Filed Under (Boating Safety) by Debbie on 04-06-2008

This week my hubby watched in frustration as a boater’s dog streaked down the dock and lept into the Columbia River to chase a duck. At first one might smirk at the dog’s antics because of course there is no way the dog will catch the duck.

dog-swimming.jpgThe Columbia River is running high and fast right now thanks to both the spring run off and the huge amount of rain we’ve been having.  The current is extremely strong and as a matter of fact, it’s so strong that it recently carried away an upstream dock which lodged against our club’s breakwater.

It didn’t take but a moment for the dog to be caught up in the rapid current, sadly he didn’t heed his owner’s call to return.  The quest for the duck drove the dog on and unfortunately he was not wearing a vest.  Right now the water’s temperature is very cold, hypothermia will begin to set in quickly.

The owners ran for their boat once they realized the dog wasn’t heeding their commands.  Shore power had to be disconnected, the engine had to be started, all the provisions had to be thrown on board and all lines had to be cast off which took precious minutes to perform.  In all it took these frantic pet owners nearly 20 minutes to reach their boat, prepare to depart and finally get on the river.

I think about how fearful the dog would have been once hypothermia set in.  His muscles would fail to work and his head would begin to bob below the water’s surface.  Adrenaline would surge through his body and maybe he’d be able to flail back above for quick pants of air, but he’d go down again.

Ultimately, the river would claim him.

Several hours later the couple returned to the dock without their pet.  I’m sure they are beating themselves up.  They should have had him on a leash, he should have been wearing a vest.  This couple was provisioning for a month long cruise…what a sad start.

The Columbia River is dangerous, as is any body of water.  I’ve said more than once here, water is an unforgiving medium, never drop your guard.  Protect yourself, your children and your pets, boating season is just starting.

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