My dog Scarlet is thirteen. I walk her almost daily at Emmarentia Dam and she’s always a little nervous and a lot unpredictable.
Odd, my friends call her.
Intriguing is what I say.
She never goes near the water. And lately her arthritis has been really bad, leaving me to wonder how much longer she has.
Today we went walking with friends.
And for some insane, crazy, who knows why and I’ll never get it reason, Scarlet plunged head first into the water.
Whoosh splash, she was gone.
Surrounded by ducks, geese and a huge body of cool sparkling water.
It was fabulous, this dog who has never swum before. Whichever way the ducks went, she went too. Swimming like a pro dog Olympic doggy paddle champion of the world.
Unbelievable. Hilarious. Brilliant.
Until we realised she wasn’t coming back.
We were standing on the edge, yelling for her. And she never once turned to look at us. She was a dog on a mission.
Except this old dog was getting deeper, further and more and more distant.
I panicked. She would have a heart attack. She was going to drown. She would disappear under the water and that would be the end.
There was no-one around to help.
‘You’ve gotta go in, Violet,’ said my friend. ‘Go. Go.’
I was hesitant. I’m not a strong swimmer.
But I threw off my clothes. And I plunged in too. It was warm and delicious, except I wasn’t feeling warm or delicious. I was terrified.
I didn’t get anywhere close. She swam left, she swam right, she ducked, she dived, she became one of the bloody ducks.
And she ignored me completely.
I had to turn back or I would’ve got into trouble.
It had been an hour. We yelled some more, one of us naked, one not. And then I threw my clothes back on and ran for help.
I found a couple of cyclists who under normal circumstances I may have flirted with, except I hate cyclists. Now, tears streaming down my face, I begged them to rescue my dog.
Except she did not want to be rescued. She was having the swim of her life.
And then, just like that, TWO HOURS LATER, she swam in. Shook herself off, grinned, I swear she grinned, jumped into my arms, licked me all over and we went back home.
I thought she would die from exhaustion in the afternoon. I thought her heart would just stop beating while she slept.
She hasn’t died. She doesn’t even seem tired. She’s happy and content and clearly has a doggy bucket list of things she wants to do.
I’m the one who’s shattered.
But if I think about it, it was very nice skinny dipping in Johannesburg.
And so we’re planning another activity.
Today the ducks in Emmarentia, tomorrow the dolphins in Mozambique. Who knows what adventure awaits.
Scarlet. She is an intriguing dog.
- with thanks to Lesley Cowling for the doggie bucket list inspiration.