It was almost exactly two years ago when I stepped out of that rescue to meet my new parents and Ellie, the first of many kids I would meet in this crazy new family of mine. I was still scared though. When they came to get me, I was pretty upset already. I hadn’t been eating so they let me sit in the office with the girls all day at the rescue and eat chicken. That’s how upset I was. That ride home from the shelter was a long one; I held tightly onto Ellie for the whole ride, all 56 boney pounds of me, right on her lap. Our first stop out of the truck was Lake Almanor. There I would find many more kids who would become my new friends. They all gathered around me and walked me down to the water with my new leash. All of a sudden, the lake shot a big wave at me. I shuddered and ran in terror after I was splashed a little. I’d never seen anything like it and I really had no desire to ever see it again. But it seemed all these kids liked being in the lake. However, this still looked pretty dangerous to me. Soon the cool of Fall came and I did not see the lake again until the warmth of summer returned.
It was my first day back at the lake so I decided to follow my Uncle Joe out on the long wooden dock. I walked out on to one of the fingers with him, not too bad; then a boat goes by and I am not kidding’ you, things went sour. The dock shook and I was terrified. I tried to move backwards because there was no where to turn around. Finally I had to go for it; as I turned, so did the dock finger and there I went in right on my back and under the water. Joe looked down on me as even my face continued to fall several inches below the surface. I looked up at him with sheer panic until he pulled me out of the water. All day he told people, “I’ve never seen a dog that couldn’t swim.” Hmmm… that didn’t make me sound very good, I know, but quite frankly I didn’t care. I suppose if I never go around the water, then nobody will even notice that I can’t swim.
No such luck. My dad got word that I couldn’t swim and I knew he was gonna make me try it. I cowered as he walked me to the water’s edge. No, Dad, please not this! Then he threw a stick in the water and just like it was instinct, I went out and got it. I SWAM!! Oh, man, we did it again and again and again. Now it’s one of my favorite things to do.
Now just when I thought I had mastered the water, my mom gets this hair-brained idea to take me on a kayak. She starts coaxing me. Hey, why don’t we take one of those big patio boats on the dock? We could both run around on that one. Ok, not happening, this is it, and I am not at all sure about it; I finally get in an lay down. It seems pretty stable. I found out later that’s because we’re still on the beach. Soon we are coasting! Dang I’m cool. I got my face held high, right up front, taking in the view and nodding my head at all the kids on the dock as we went by. Yeah, they think I’m cool too. Wow, this is better than I though. I position my nose down right at the water’s edge and hold tight; I’m actually loving it, as my mom heads around the marina entrance and back toward the shore. We are cruising along a few feet from the shoreline, when a boat goes by. Suddenly, I feel the boat rocking fiercely. All I can think of is the day I fell off that wobbly dock and Joe had to save me. But how will MOM be able to save me? I was terrified; I rose to my feet to jump off! “I’m outta here!” But before I could get my footing, I crashed into the waves, my face completely submerged. I looked up at my mom and thought, ‘I gotta do this myself.’ I flipped back over swam to the shore to jump up on the rocks. Mom kept saying, “Come on Tank, you can do it. Get back in the boat,“ Can I?? She hollers to her friend. “Look, he looks like Rin Tin Tin up there.” I did look magnificent, that’s for sure, and I felt pretty sure I could do it. I finally lept for the boat and bam, the whole thing goes squirley, and I am shot down and under once again. Okay, that’s it; back to the beach. I stayed with them the whole kayak trip, running alongside on the shore, trying to get up the nerve to go back on the boat with Mom. It really was fun, so maybe next summer, I’ll master kayaking.