Man, today was rough. I mean, like, whoa, this was a super sucky day. But not really, I guess. It started well. I was awoken (awakened? awook? whatever.) by Starbucks emailing me personally about their new line of frappuccinos. I thought to myself, “why am I checking my e-mail at 6 a.m.? Also, those look delicious. I should go get one.” And then promptly fell back asleep and forgot all about them.
I started my day by grabbing breakfast with a friend at South, a new restaurant opened by the same people that opened Snow City Cafe. It was awesome. We decided to go take a drive out to Eklutna Lake. I love Eklutna Lake. I’ve only been there once, but it was incredibly beautiful. The water was this unbelievably intense blue, and I was so excited to take my dog to visit now that the weather is nice. So we grab coffee and head out there.
We get there and things are going wonderfully. Mindy and Grady (my friend’s sheltie) are having a grand ol’ time. They’re picking up sticks, and dropping sticks, and barking at sticks. Real wild stuff. After about 20 minutes, everything turns to crap and my life almost ends. That sounds dramatic, because it was.
Mindy meanders off, like she does. She occasionally strays away from me when she’s off-leash, but she usually stays close. Not this time. As we’re walking around the lake, this Super Cute Kayak Man who was walking in the opposite direction as us yells over, “Hey! Your dog is going that way!” And I, being a complete idiot, tell the Super Cute Kayak Man, “Oh, thanks, but she’ll come back. She never goes far.” But I was wrong. I call for her, and she uncharacteristically goes farther away. Now she’s almost hard to see. I’m calling for her in a sing-songy voice to “come here you stupid-little-idiot-mommy-loves-you-but-come-here-or-I’m-going-to-ruin-you”. She proceeds to completely ignore me and goes even farther away.
So I start after her, which is incredibly difficult in the slimy sludge clay mud that surrounds Eklutna Lake. I manage to not faceplant in the mud on a normal day by walking very slowly and gingerly. Running after my 6-month-old puppy did not provide me the time I need to safely cross the Sea o’ Slime, slowing me considerably and giving Mindy ample opportunity to almost murder herself. But I’m getting ahead of myself.
As I’m chasing after her, she disappears into the wooded area that encircles the lake. I’m calling for her in an increasing panic. What start out as “Mindy! Come here! Mommy loves you and was joking about selling you to an Asian restaurant!” turns into full out panic. Once I realize that she’s not playfully re-emerging like she normally does, I LOSE IT. I start sob-crying, something I reserve for only the most intense and heart-wrenching of opportunities, like the death of a loved one or the end of a Ryan Gosling movie. I’m screaming her name at the top of my lungs. My friend joins me in the search, as does Super Cute Kayak Man and his Also Pretty Cute Kayak Friend. Joining us in the search was 2-4 very nice elderly couples. I honestly don’t know how many elderly couples were helping us look, as everything was sort of a stressed-out haze. Some of the couples might not even have been elderly, but I was all blurry-eyed with tears and blurry-nosed with snot to really focus on the age of the people around me.
My friend and I drive around in her Jeep looking for her, calling her name and terrifying several campers with my gut-wrenching, kinda-loud screams of “MINDY! MI-MI! MIIII-MIIII (sob sob)” Some of the very kind people at Eklutna Lake said they would stay posted at the open clearing of the lake and keep their eyes open for her while we drove around. I told them ‘th–th–thaa—thaaankkkkk yo—(sob)–u’. I was not dealing with my feelings in a very mature way but whatever, my dog is the best and I didn’t want to lose her.
So we’re driving around and decide to go back to the parking lot where we originally started. We see a group of people gathered, which is a good sign. I jump out of the car and as I’m walking towards them they see me and show me that they have her–but something is wrong. A woman is holding her, and Mindy doesn’t look right. As I get closer, I realize that she’s almost dead. He tells us that she must have gone around the lake and decided to swim her way back. Across the whole freaking lake. With strong winds and frigid temperatures. The guy told me apologetically “we saw her out there and assumed she was dead, and we were figuring we’d have to tell you that she had died. But then we realized that she was still swimming.” Then he told me, “I honestly feel bad that I didn’t go out and get her, but, you know… I’m a dad.” Which is completely understandable. But the point is, my dog made it. She made it, and she saved herself. Sure, she was the stupid idiot that jumped in the lake to begin with, but it was amazing that she survived.
Once I got her back, she was in hypothermic shock. Her body temperature was dangerously low. She was shaking so violently I was afraid her heart might stop, and she was non-responsive. She didn’t seem to be able to move her limbs. I wrapped her in my sweatshirt, and my friend’s sweatshirt, and a towel. My friend turned the heat up in her Jeep as high as it would go, and we sped to the nearest vet hospital.
She wouldn’t stop shaking. Her body temperature was taking forever to increase and I was so afraid she was going to die in my arms. I held her and cried and squeezed her little puppy body like she was a burrito and I was a person hugging a burrito. I’m not good with similes. By the time we reached the vet hospital (which I guesstimate was about a billion miles away from the lake), she had finally just stopped shivering, but she refused to leave me. I had to set her down to fill out the vet paperwork, but Mindy was having none of it. She firmly planted herself on my person as I filled out all of her information (Mindy Sortino, 6 months old, brown-ish color, small-ish shape). It was only when I started filling out the paperwork and promising my firstborn if I defaulted on payment did I realize that I was shaking, too. Finally, the vet came to take her away to examine her.
I waited patiently for the vet to return to tell me that my dog had gone Full Popsicle and that her brain didn’t work anymore. I was so afraid for the worst and bracing myself to go home empty-handed. The vet came back and explained that she had pretty significant hypothermia, and it was good that we brought her in so they could warm her up with a hairdryer. In hindsight, I’m not sure why I needed to pay a veterinarian to do that, but whatever. The dog-ter briefed me on the possibility of aspiration pneumonia, and what to do if Mindy starts coughing like a smoker.
I, full of relief and pent-up pee, gratefully pay the grumpy veterinary assistant Way Too Much Money. She tells me that she hopes that I have a good day, but her eyes say that she doesn’t really care about my day. I politely request the return of my dog, and she dryly responds, “Oh yeah, you might need that.” and walks away. She’s a gem, and I love her.
Anyway, they give me my dog back. My stupid little turd of a dog, whom I love very dearly. And you know what that little sucker did? She wagged her tail and licked my nose and my eyeballs. And it was really gross. And I was really happy.