The winter day was freezing cold when the man, boy, and dog went for their daily walk along the bank of the river. The freshly fallen snow from the night before covered everything. The river was mostly frozen over, but still had open sections where rushing water kept the surface clear. On the other side a small gaggle of Canada geese had settled on a promontory of ice, nattering to each other, catching up on the previous day’s events.
The man and boy had been doing this walk for years. Now the boy was older. Next year he would be a teenager and they now talked more about things that mattered. In the man’s busy schedule this was one time he saved for this connection with his son. The dog was older too and had slowed down, but was still thrilled to be out with his masters on familiar ground and romped about, clearly enjoying himself.
As the party approached their house, they heard loud barking from another dog. All three turned to see a black lab across the river running with abandon at the geese, sending one after the other into flight. As he chased after the last goose towards the edge of the ice, it broke off and he splashed into the freezing water. The man and boy watched as the lab struggled to get back onto the unbroken ice. He lunged several times, but each time his front paws slipped on the ice and his body was pulled back into the rushing river. The lab was in trouble and the man said the dog would probably be dragged into the river and under the ice.
The two looked at each other, confused. Could they do anything? Was there time?
“Should we try to get over there and pull him out?”
The boy didn’t hesitate, “Oh let’s, Dad.”
With that, they rushed back to the house, put their dog inside, jumped into their car and drove down to the bridge where they could cross to the other side of the river. They didn’t take long to locate a place on the road close to where the dog should have been. The boy leapt from the car and ran to where he thought the lab would be. He was so happy to see the dog there, still trying to get out of the water, but obviously tiring.
The man caught up and looked at the scene. There was no way they could walk out on the ice for fear that it would break under their weight and they would fall in the water. If the ice did break the dog would lose his only hold on something firm and be lost. The boy said he could stretch out along the ice and get hold of the dog if the man could hold on to his ankles. The man hesitated, thinking of the danger to his son, but then looked at the struggling lab and decided to go ahead. They both laid on the ice, stretched into a human chain, and the boy strained as far as he could to get a hold on the the dog’s collar. Finally he reached it, closed his hand on the leather strap and pulled. That was all the extra support the dog needed and he lunged out of the water and onto the firm ice, safe.
The man and boy slithered backward to where the ice could support them and stood up. The dog shook himself off, looked quickly at the two strange people beside him and then trotted off, seemingly unaware of his close call with death.
The man and boy watched the lab, then looked at each other and smiled, but said nothing. They drove home slowly, the boy bursting to tell his mother about the life they had just saved. What a good day it was.