Saturday, September 15, 2012

Water dogs

Two or three times per week, Oliver and Canela go for a swim in a pond about a mile from my home. Adjacent to the railroad track, this pond boasts a notable history. My historian friend, Texas native Jimmy Klechka, said that pond was first impounded in the early 20th century to provide steam engines with water. Later, the pond provided once-through cooling water for a small-ish electrical power plant. More recently, this beleaguered body of water and its downstream neighbors were badly polluted with arsenic by an adjacent pesticide manufacturer. Remediation has been ongoing for more than a decade.

Oliver, a yellow Lab mix and natural swimmer, flings himself into the water with abandon. On cue, using a modern plastic atl-atl (curved throwing stick), I launch rocks into the pond while standing on the railroad tracks. At the sound of the plunk, Oliver swims so fast to the ripple that he leaves a wake.

Canela, a little red hound mix, at first kept right behind Oliver. When he turned, she turned. Now that she has gained more confidence, she swims her own swim with her tail sticking out of the water like a flag. Today she jumped in before I was able to remove her leash. While about 40 feet from shore, Oliver grabbed the leash in his mouth, and led Canela back to shore.
Rarely, a freight train chugs by, and I have to scramble out of the way down a talus slope to the shoreline.

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