Three years ago, Amicus almost drowned at Block Bay. We were on a walk down Valentine Mountain and he scooted out onto what we both thought was a log dock-type thing, but what was actually a loosely fastened log boom. Ami slipped down between two slippery spinning logs scrambling and sliding under the water unable to achieve any purchase on the logs. I started to shinny out to rescue him thinking we’re both going to die today, but he managed to extricate himself before I got too far out. He swam in to where he could scramble up some driftwood to gain the shore.
Ever since that day, understandably, Ami has had water issues. He loves wading and splashing around to retrieve a stick up to a certain depth, just about the middle of his chest, before he comes back in and looks at me with a no-way expression. When other dogs would go plunging out into deeper water for sticks or fun, Ami would whine worrying until they swam back in to shore, whereupon he would sniff them all over to make sure they were okay. He would fret anxiously, but he would also look on in great envy and admiration and I just knew he dreamed of being able to do that; that that was what fetching a stick was really all about, but that it was for other dogs, and not him.
For a while I tried to convince him to swim, trying all different well-meant methods and, because of his dreams and his love, he would reluctantly make an effort, but would immediately turn back once his paws left the ground and the fear came back. So, eventually, I just let him be a wader glad he could at least cool off that way and enjoy splashing about.
On Saturday, that all changed.
Ami and I walked in to West Lake. It was a hot dry day and I really wanted a swim and Ami could do his shallow-water thing. I swam out and I thought, you know, it’s been quite a while, years, since I even tried. I know Ami knows how to swim, he’s just scared. I don’t want Ami to be scared any more.
So I went out just a ways and I called back, “Ami, you can swim if you want to, I know you can. Come on, buddy, just give it a shot.” He looked frantic, scared, threatened even, and basically just said, sorry, no.
Then, for some instinctual reason, I put on a really annoying cute high-pitched animated character’s voice and started calling, “Come on, Ami, come and play; Come on, Ami; Come and play, come and play; Come on Ami, come and play.”
Ami looked so tempted and yet almost sad, but then:
Suddenly he started into the water and began tentatively swimming.
I said, “Oh, Ami, good boy, good boy, you’re such a good swimmer!”
He swam quickly back to shore.
Then I did the voice again, “Come on, Ami, come and play, come and play,” and then, like a magic switch of confidence went off in his head, he plunged into the water and started powerfully swimming directly at me, his dog legs strong and sure. I’ve never seen him look happier or more proud. He pulled up alongside me grinning and together we swam around and around.
Then we went to shore and he ran around like a mad dog until he found a big stick and he came over to me, dripping, shaking, wagging, and dropped the stick. I knew what he wanted, what he meant. He was saying, “Okay, throw it way out there this time, Mommy, I can do it.”
So I did. I threw it far out there and in he plunged swimming and swimming until he got to the stick and he clamped his big smiling jaws around it and swam back. He was so delighted, so proud of himself. We spent quite a while at the lake swimming together and fetching way-out-there sticks, both of us completely and totally soaked in lake water and joy.
What a great day. What a great dog. Have you met my dog? He is Amicus the Brave and Mighty Swimmer.