Terri jumped into the lake from the edge of the dock and paddled a few strokes away as I approached the ladder to climb in myself. Before I could get into position, a blur of dog shot around my left, became airborne, and went straight into the water. I realized it was Charlie just as he disappeared beneath the surface. An echo of “Oh shit, Charlie!” resounded through the otherwise quiet cove.

As neither of my dogs have ever swam before, I was a little concerned as I watched the water for a second to see if he’d resurface. Otherwise, I knew, it’d be time to dive into murky water and test how well I could see.

I sat on the edge of the dock, on the ladder, and waited for a few seconds that seemed to drag on forever.

To my relief I saw him come back into view a few moments later, struggling to reach the surface again. There was a look of panic plastered on his face as he splashed his head out, but conveniently he was already facing back toward me on the dock. I reached out and grabbed his front legs and lifted his front end onto my lap. I couldn’t get up without letting go of him, so I simply leaned back, dragging the rest of him out of the water and letting him climb over me back onto the deck.

Ordinarily, though he likes wading into water to chest level, Charlie staunchly avoids swimming and deep water. All I can figure for why he jumped in like that was that he panicked watching Terri go in and was trying to help. He’s usually penned up away from us while we swim at Smith Mountain Lake, but this time we’d put him closer, on the deck.