Dog StoriesDogs

New Experiences for Our Rescued Dog

What do you do when you rescue a four-year-old dog who hasn’t had any experience with swimming? You take him to a lake! You then wish you had a doggie life jacket to keep him from drowning! Yikes!

Our first rescue dog was Bear. After months of searching for the perfect dog, we finally decided to meet this dog named Dude. Yeah, Dude. We figured with a name like that, he had to be the laid-back, calm dog we were looking for. Of course he lived up to his foster home’s name for him, so we started the adoption process. We just couldn’t believe that no one came to get him from “the pound” except for the canine rescue group who let us adopt him. We had to go through the usual process of filling out the adoption application and then having a home visit. After that, Dude came to live with us.    

What we learned within the first couple of days was that this dog could NOT keep the name Dude. He was the most cuddly, sweet, innocent dog we had come across in quite a while. He was very much like a teddy bear. So, we decided to name him Bear. Again, we just couldn’t believe that his former owner didn’t try to reclaim him from the pound. And we didn’t want to even think about anyone ever abandoning this dog. He was just too sweet with such a gentle soul. Oh, the looks he would give us with those beautiful brown eyes! We were so lucky to have adopted him.

Some months passed and he grew to love his new home and adventures with us. He was able to decrease his fear of loud noises with a lot of patient training and trust, and thoroughly enjoyed walks where he could sniff anything and everything. He even managed to win the trust of the two cats he now lived with. So, when it came time for us to go camping, we headed to Montana with our truck and travel trailer. Everyone was included!

On our way, we stopped at multiple spots. It was on this trip that we realized that Bear had not had too many experiences outside of a house and yard. We stopped at Lake Roosevelt to visit family. It seemed that Bear either didn’t like water or had never been swimming in his life. I think he had his first boat ride on this trip! Anyway, he eventually figured out that the beach goes under the water and that if his feet were still touching, then he was going to be okay. Pushing him to try to swim was just too much for him. We did not have a life jacket for him so I didn’t push him to try anything this sensitive boy didn’t want to. Did I mention that he was a labrador retriever mix? Yeah, I know. Labs are supposed to LOVE the water. However, Bear really didn’t feel comfortable with any more than wading in it.

On the next leg of our camping adventure, we stopped in Idaho. At this campground, there was a dock that led from the shore out into the water next to a boat ramp. It was very peaceful and quiet near that lake so we decided to take a walk down to the dock. Bear and I walked out onto the dock for a picture then much to my amazement Bear kept right on walking — off the end of the dock! He went head first into the water while I still held onto the leash. I was in shock! Fortunately, he bobbed right back up but then had to be lifted out of the water back onto the dock because he couldn’t get through the weeds to the shore. He didn’t seem to be too worse for wear after that, but we just couldn’t believe that he walked straight off the end of the dock. The only thing we could figure out was that maybe he connected his previous experience of walking from the sandy shore into the water with walking off the end of the dock into the water, thinking he would just be wading. It was a very scary experience for US! Fortunately, Bear didn’t let that stop him from later enjoying a dip in water every now and then.

I suppose that we should have had a life jacket for Bear but we didn’t own a boat so didn’t really think about it. However, I think that any dog we have in the future will have one just so that we, including the dog, don’t have to go through that experience again anytime we are around water.


Please share your dog stories

  • Does your dog love water?
  • Do you have a life jacket for your dog?
  • Does it work well?

Let us know in the comments below, or submit your story for our community story post!

Jeannie / Lead Writer, Tires & Tails

Hi, I'm Jeannie! I'm a full-time RVer with a lifelong need for travel. I used to be an elementary school teacher and had a dog training business in Washington State. I have had numerous pets throughout my life, and love to travel with them. I started my full time RV adventure with one dog and two cats. I currently have a dog who comes with my husband and me on our traveling adventures.

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