We took Luke down to the Battenkill River late yesterday afternoon to cool off. He is not big on the water, and we were not planning on swimming, but he likes to play around at the edge. It was in the high 80’s (no complaints here!) and as I sat on the edge of the river I really wanted to jump in. The water was very cold but not freezing. I slowly made my way in, trying to decide when I would be brave enough to fully submerge, remembering that first feeling of shock as my extra warm body hit the extra cold water. Luke followed me out to his knees.
I am not sure that any Shepherds love the water, but Luke has a couple of issues that make swimming a challenge. He was born with weak back legs …he is in no pain, but walks with a wiggle and could never (even as a puppy) stand up on his hind legs. He also has long fur, that gets weighted down with water, making getting out a challenge. When I take him for “exercise swimming” I have to coax him out with his leash on and lead him into water where I can stand, and he can’t, so he needs to swim. He doesn’t love this but it is good for building his leg strength.
There is a fairly swift current at places in the river, and at the spot we like, it makes a big turn so you can jump in and be carried around to the other side (about a 100 feet) for a fun little float. Last evening, I made my way in with Luke at my side. Usually he stops and then meets me when I get out. Yesterday, the current was swift enough that as we waded out, it started to take him and before he knew it, he was swimming…and before I knew it, I was too. Besides calling to him to not go to the opposite shore, there was no distress as he paddled along with the current and out the other side.
As I followed Luke out of the water, I realized that not once had I thought about the cold, had no memory of my “warm body fully meeting that shocking chill of the river”…when Luke went in, my only thought was how to get close enough to him if he needed me. It was a small little feeling of freedom; to forget about myself, my comfort, my body, my little plan, and for that snippet in time and to be pulled along by something bigger.