To the Editor:
I write this letter as a reminder to fellow Islanders.
As spring draws near and the frozen ponds defrost, please be very careful while walking your beloved dogs and give warnings to your children to stay off the ice.
This past Sunday, while I was finishing up with the last details of painting my daughter’s bedroom, she had decided to take our dogs for a walk. Great, I thought, the air is warmer and the sun is shining, and it’s a beautiful day, “Enjoy the walk.”
As I was in my painting Zen, I heard my phone ring and noticed it was my daughter calling. I answered to hear her hysterical screaming that I could barely make out as, “Help me, help me, come quick, the dogs ran out on the pond and fell through the ice. They can’t get out.” A million thoughts raced through my mind before the adrenaline kicked in and I could answer, “Where are you? Don’t go on the ice and try to get them, I’ll be right there! Call 911.”
As I scrambled to find rope and boards or whatever else I could grab that I might need, I feared the worst of what I would encounter once I got to the location of the pond area I thought my daughter had described. As I barreled down the muddy, one lane dirt road that leads to the pond in my car, I almost hit, head on, a neighbor who lives nearby as he was driving out.
“Johnny”, I screamed! “Please help me… my daughter, the dogs, the pond, the ice…”
When I finally got to the pond, I ran out to the edge to find my daughter on the other side of the pond with one dog, while our second dog was in the middle of the pond in the hole he had fallen through struggling for life with his paws to hold on to the edge of the ice. There was no possible way for me to reach him. How was I going to save this dog from drowning right before our eyes? I noticed kayaks and canoes along the edge of the pond. They had been parked for the winter, no oars in sight. As my panicked body fumbled for insight, my neighbor, Johnny Hoy, whom I almost hit with my car on the road, came running to me. He saw the dog in the pond and said, “Get in the boat.” Thankfully, his boat was docked nearby.
He was telling me that he had tried to get through the ice the day before, but it was too thick. I worried we would not break through the ice on this day as well. It was a struggle to get through, but we made it.
As Johnny pulled the dog out of the water for me, I began wrapping my down jacket around his intensely shaking body and held him close to me as I cried for the relief of the rescue, as I cried for love of life, as I cried for the gracious help of a friend and neighbor.
I cannot extend thanks enough to Johnny Hoy for being on the road at that moment and for helping my family save our dog.
I also extend many thanks to all of the West Tisbury first responders who arrived shortly thereafter, for their quick response to my daughter’s 911 call.
Most importantly, I thank my daughter Autumn, for being the bravest 13 year old. She acted quickly with her call to me and to 911. She did an awesome job.