Ollie’s first swim

Ever since his first outing to Beetley Meadows, Ollie has liked nothing more than to be in the water. Starting in the small River Whitewater nearby, he has graduated to other local rivers and ponds, and also been in the sea on the north coast. It was there, at Holkham, that he was scared by having a wave wash over him, and since that incident, he only ventures into the shallows anytime he is near salt water.

When playing with other dogs in Beetley, I noticed that he never liked to get out of his depth. As small terriers and spaniels fearlessly embarked on long swims to retrieve sticks and balls, he would get as far as his chin, then stand waiting for them to return. I tried to encourage him. In better weather, I walked along into the deeper water, until he would have to swim to keep up with me. But once the water touched his face, he stayed where he was, and cried until I returned. As a non-swimmer myself, I decided not to force the issue, and left him to stay where he was confident and comfortable. We came to the conclusion that he would be a non-swimming dog, and that was OK. After all, some of the local dogs refuse to venture into the river at all.

After his recent attempt to chase game birds, something must have clicked in his canine brain. Returning from a wet and lonely walk at Hoe Rough yesterday, he spotted some ducks on the water, just under the Fakenham Road bridge. The water is deeper in this area, and he rarely goes any further than the bank-side for a drink. Wagging his curly tail, obviously seeing the group of ducks as potential playmates, he could not stop himself plunging straight into the water. The ducks were not about to hang around to see if he was indeed harmless, and they flapped low across the water, taking off in an easterly direction.

Ollie decided to follow them, wading into the deeper water near the opposite bank, jumping and splashing in a pointless pursuit. He suddenly realised that his paws were not touching the bottom, and looked alarmed for a moment, before beginning to paddle along. His first swim! I could see his legs clearly under the surface, and he was most definitely swimming. It was a brief experience, as he was soon back to the bank. I felt a sense of pride for my dog. like a parent watching their child’s first faltering steps. Unfortunately, as often happens, there was no-one else to witness it.

35 thoughts on “Ollie’s first swim

    1. Thanks Olga. It’s hard to get him out of the water at times, so it might be even harder now that he has realised he can swim!
      Best wishes, Pete. (Re-tweets much appreciated)


  1. Interesting. Our dog, Pisch, was able to swim the first time he went in the sea. Who taught him?! There were no other dogs to learn from and I assumed it was an automatic response for all dogs! Good on yer, Ollie. πŸ™‚


    1. It does appear to be instinctive, though as I said, many local dogs avoid the water at all costs. It will be interesting to see if he ever swims for the fun of it, and not just because he found himself unexpectedly in deep water.


  2. Again, a wonderful account – because of your moderation. Want to hear more about the water fight with Spike the Rhodesian Ridgeback. Ollie is my internet hero. More than ever, we humans, apparently more repelled by ourselves as a species than ever, get solace from dogs (and cats) and our anthropomorphic tendency is endangering our understanding of the real animals. Thank you, again, for scrupulously avoiding it in your writing and providing an antidote for cat video-sickness.
    Meanwhile, the only thing getting me through Games of Thrones is the promise of a wolf sighting….


    1. Ollie seems to want to dominate Spike, as the latter is a year younger. Unfortunately, he is much larger, so has no fear of my ‘Little Caesar’. The fighting is all show, growling and shoulder jumping; rarely getting nasty, but certainly sounding like it to those nearby.
      I have never seen ‘Game of Thrones’. It is much praised,but I would value your opinion. x


      1. You are quite right as usual! (about GoT – I’m only watching it because the gory soap opera is sedating me during the stress of my own Condominium Wars – and the wolves make up for the human over-acting)


  3. I may have told this story before.

    Years ago, after my parents moved from the city to the country, our Old English Sheepdog, Winston, suddenly found himself in a world populated by cows, horses, cats, and ducks. Moreover, rather than being confined to a fenced yard, he was free to roam the hills and cross the country roads. Winston learned many lessons in his final years. One of them was that a dog simply cannot catch ducks in a pond. He’d never swam in his life, but when he caught sight of a couple of ducks in the pond, he had to jump in and give chase! The ducks stayed in the pond, but kept their distance. Watching from the house, I saw Winston develop a sudden aptitude for the dog paddle, but figured he’d exit the pond once it became clear to him that he was no match for the ducks. Instead, he kept circling in the water, and I realized he was wearing himself out. I ran down to the pond and ordered him out, but he wouldn’t obey. He was obsessed with the ducks. I didn’t relish the thought of wading into the pond, not so much because the depth was unknown, but because I knew there was at least one large snapping turtle in there. But I had no choice, so in I went. I dragged Winston out of the pond, and he collapsed, unable to bear his own weight. To my knowledge, he never swam in that pond again. And even when the ducks were waddling about on land, he left them alone!

    Pete, I hope Ollie gives swimming in deep water another chance. I think dogs generally enjoy it–as long as they know when to quit….


    1. That’s a good story about Winston David. I doubt Ollie would have the patience to circle the ducks for so long, but he is always interested in any birds on water. Then again, he wouldn’t be carrying the weight of all that wet fur that an Old English has to put up with.
      Best wishes, Pete.


  4. Pete, what a lovely experience for you and for Ollie. I’m sure he’ll be swimming all the time. Hey, it’s never too late for you to also learn to swim as well.. Do you have a Y.M.C.A. there or something along those lines. I was almost swimming in the Gulf of Mexico before I could even walk, so give it a go and I’m sure you’ll feel as proud of yourself as you did when Ollie took the plunge.

    Have yourself a wonderful Sunday, and take care…

    Laura πŸ™‚


      1. Pete, oh my goodness I truly understand, but in my own long winded style I left you a rather long comment on your other post… Just my own simple way of thinking, on my own journey through life. Just think of the future post swimming lessons would bring to light… wink…

        Laura ~


          1. Pete, are there other posts of yours on this topic?

            I really need to dig into your older posts, before we were friends on WordPress ~ I believe I’ve missed a lot of truly interesting reads from you.. So, if you see your stats rising in the coming weeks ~ Tis I popping into your older posts from 2014 and back.. enjoy your day my friend



          2. No specific posts about drowning, but lots about my youth, my marriages, and my previous jobs, as well as some fiction. Lots to explore!
            Try these for size, when you have the time.
            Best wishes, Pete.


      1. I had a dog for many years that I miss having now. She was a lovely dog who sadly went blind and we had to put her down. She really was a member of the family.


        1. Losing a much-loved dog is always a wrench. I have had to take so many to be put to sleep over the years, it was one reason why I was initially hesitant to get another one. Still, I might go before Ollie this time!

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