MINIATURE BULL TERRIER
The hysterically funny near-drowning of a Champion Miniature Bull Terrier that sank like a white rock!
FAT DOGS (MINI-BULLS) CAN’T SWIM
by Sherry Andrews
For those who aren’t sure what a Mini-Bull Terrier looks like, picture a cross between a Hippopotamus and a pig, reduce to about 30 pounds, add a touch of Robin Williams comic/manic attitude and you have your typical Mini-Bull.
Pictured right is Wicket's cousin Becca, also imported from England. Typical muscle-packed "heavy" body and short legs, she clearly shows why Mini-Bulls can't swim...
But don’t make the mistake of equating typical with average. Wicket is not an average anything. She would be deeply offended by the suggestion, if only she didn’t have to get off the couch to refute it.
Today Wicket is resting comfortably thank you, snuggled a little deeper into her big, soft blanket, but otherwise unharmed and seemingly unaffected by her near drowning. After all, it isn’t the first time she has been traumatized by water - she refuses to go outside if it’s raining and baths are considered unjust punishment - so she has accepted this latest ordeal with the secure belief that a good nap fixes anything.
Yesterday’s adventure began like most of life’s great challenges: with all participants completely oblivious to the possibilities. (Have you ever had anything unexpected happen while you were paying attention?) Well, as any farmer will tell you, pigs can’t swim. It seems to have something to do with the physics of a large, heavy body maintaining buoyancy while being propelled by short legs and tiny feet. But since I have this otherwise indestructible Mini-Bull, the oft-suggested analogy never crossed my mind.
For the first time in weeks, the sun was out, the temperature was above fifty degrees, and green grass was beginning to show. A perfect day for a walk along the river. With two bored Miniature Bull Terriers in a small house, any excuse for an outing is met with all-around approval. As soon as I picked up their leashes, the hopeful looks turned to excited frenzy and the game was on. The three of us have our clearly defined roles to play; my job is to hurry up and get us all to wherever we’re going and then let them loose and try to keep up. Archie is Wicket’s cousin and the most recent addition to the family. His role is to run laps around everyone else, deliriously happy with life and eager to share his enthusiasm with everyone he meets. Wicket goes at her own pace…sometimes ahead, sometimes behind, always maintaining her dignified, self-assured certainty that we revolve around her.
We took our time, checking out any and all interesting diversions; tree stumps, overturned rocks, abandoned nests, and invisible traces of other visitors to the river’s edge. There had recently been several winter storms back-to-back, so the landscape was both ravaged and refreshed, and the river was high and fast. Perfect for that complete sense of connection to nature and life and all the things that matter…and equally perfect for that complete loss of connection to reality and all the things that can wreck a good day.
After about a half mile, Wicket was getting thirsty and looking for a way down the riverbank. She made several attempts but the bank was too steep. We finally found an old fishing site with a passable trail to the water’s edge and even a level sandy area for Wicket to safely get a drink. I stood laughing at her while she carefully (and awkwardly) maneuvered her bulk down the embankment till she was finally on level ground again.
The river was rushing and splashing at her as she tried repeatedly to take a drink without getting her face wet. I was still laughing at her when she took another step out to get better access, lost her footing, and fell in! When Wicket fell in the water, I immediately raced down the short trail to the water’s edge. I was concerned but not really worried. This stretch of the French Broad River is wide but shallow, rarely more than hip deep and even after a storm is relatively tame.
Wicket had managed to turn herself around quickly and was headed back to where I was now standing. However she had to swim upstream, and as I mentioned, she is not very aerodynamic. She was paddling as fast as she could: yet slowly getting further away. Still I was not especially worried, since the current was carrying her along parallel to the bank and I was sure she would find footing any second.
She was still within six feet of me when she went under for the first time. My concern level shot up, but she quickly resurfaced and actually seemed to be a little closer to the bank. I called encouragement to her while running scenarios of possible rescue attempts including such impossible ideas as lassoing her with the otherwise useless leash that I still held in my hand, when the current suddenly grabbed her and swept her out. Within a second she went under again.
At this point my rational, common sense self deserted me and I stepped out after her and instantly went in over my head! My first shocked thought was; It’s not supposed to be this deep! Wicket and I both seemed to break the surface about the same time. As soon as I opened my eyes I saw her come up about six or eight feet from me, still struggling to swim against the current. Fortunately, as I was swimming with the current I was able to reach her within seconds. Just as I touched her, she went under again. Even though I was almost above her, she disappeared in the muddy water. I frantically swept all around with my hands and feet, trying desperately to find her, knowing that as I was being pulled by the current, she was underwater probably being pulled harder. Was she still within reach at all or should I swim further out? Almost on top of that thought was the horrifying image that she could be snagged by a submerged log and unable to reach the surface at all. Suddenly I was fighting panic as much as the current.
Just as I was about to dive and begin an unlikely underwater search, she popped up again just out of reach. I lunged toward her and finally made solid contact. Once I had a firm grip on her it was only a matter of a short swim till I could grab a tree root and pull us to the edge of the water.
Unfortunately we had left our nice, easy trail far behind and were now looking up at an almost vertical rise of about eight feet. Eight feet ain’t much unless you’re floating in frigid water. Wicket was clearly exhausted and unable to stand, so we took a few seconds to catch our breath before we started the climb. Well, we didn’t climb - I found a space to prop Wicket long enough to get my knees under me, pull up to the next tree root, find another place for Wicket, and so on. We were almost at the top when I spotted Archie looking down and laughing at us!
It was a long, cold walk back to the car. I carried Wicket most of the way until she had regained her strength and working up body heat became more important than conserving energy. The whole way, Archie raced ahead of us, occasionally running back to see what was taking us so long. As far as he was concerned, the day had been one really great adventure , just right for an adventurous Miniature Bull Terrier!
Excerpted from Dog Days Are Free by the author
Related Article: The Dog That Could Not Swim