There are some truly dedicated dog caretakers out there, and I know of one in particular whom I would trust with the lives of my animals, my grand kids, and my possessions, every last one of them. Her name is Maureen Hughes, and she loves dogs. She’s an educated, articulate young woman that has chosen to share her working days with canines. No, she doesn’t just love dogs, she really, really, really loves dogs. Her clients are lucky to have found her. In the past, she has thrown herself between a dog she was walking and a loose attacking pack of dogs. (For that she suffered major damage to her hand). She has nursed (above and beyond the call or duty) a dog that was badly injured after being run over by a car driven by the household help of one of her clients. She has rushed dogs in distress to veterinarians and never puts herself before the welfare of the animals that she is responsible for. This time however, she really earned the respect and admiration of a lot of people when she heroically reacted without thinking to save the life of a dog, who surely would not be here today if it wasn’t for her quick response. The story began on a quiet day in May.
Maureen had taken one of her client’s dogs, a big lovable Gold Retriever, down to the private beach behind her client’s home. Seeing a group of ducks hit the water, the dog gamely followed them in, and kept going, and going intent on joining the clan of Quakers. He was either oblivious to Maureen’s call or chose to ignore it. As he swam further and further out, Maureen’s apprehension turned to cold fear. She ran to the house and after asking for a raft, grabbed an inner tube and dashed for the beach. While you may be reading this in the heat of June, on this particular day the water temperature was forty-two degrees.
Though she could no longer see any sign of the dog, she hit the water on faith and started to paddle out to wear she thought he might have gotten. The hysterical owner was sure that ” Ali Baba” was gone. The housekeeper had called 911 and told them that there’s a dog in the water and that a woman has gone in after him. The dispatcher said that help is on the way. Maureen lay across the inner tube, slipping into the water on occasion and luckily righting herself and using her hands and arms as oars, and kept moving in the direction of the dog. After being in the water for approximately 30 minutes and so far from shore that the people there looked like toys, she heard the dog back and called to him.
He swam to her and appeared to be very tired and glassy eyed. She grabbed his collar, encouraged him to keep going, and headed for the shore, a shore that was about 5 to 6 football fields away. As she pushed for shore, it was a rescue squad that came out and had a small speed boat to get to her and rescued her and Allibaba. One rescuer went to grab her and she said NO take the dog first. He was frustrated but grabbed the dog first. They helped both the dog and his rescuer from the water. The dog was dried off and Maureen was put into an ambulance covered with a hot pad and taken to a hospital where she was put under observation. On the way there, one of the paramedics told her that he would have done the same thing. I wonder how many people would have really reacted with such immediate impulse and risked themselves to save ” just a dog”. It might not have been prudent to jump into a freezing Lake Michigan, but remember I said that she doesn’t just love dogs, she really, really, really cares about them. That’s why I would trust just such a dedicated young woman with all I hold dear. Problem is, there aren’t a whole lot like her.
Written By Marlene Kavin: Well Respected Dog Trainer and author of Wags May 2000.