In all of the research I did about Westies before adopting Jacques, I didn’t see anything about them liking (or disliking) the water. Needless to say, I was unsure how he would do in and around water. The first few times we bathed him, he was a little rattled, but did fine. Now anytime he hears bathwater running, he’ll come barreling into the bathroom – and if the bath isn’t for him, you have to catch him otherwise he’ll cannonball right into the tub. (He seems to be less enthusiastic about the bath once my husband starts dumping water on him.)
One day my husband and I decided to take Rocky and Jacques for a short hike around a nearby lake and let them go for a swim afterwards (one of Rocky’s favorite things). As we ended our hike and started looking for a good place to let the boys play in the water, we walked out onto one of the fishing docks. Jacques saw some geese on the water and went absolutely crazy then took off full speed towards them – barking and flailing like a possessed dog. Luckily we weren’t far from the side of the dock… and thankfully my husband had a good hold on his leash. Jacques was barking, geese were honking and flapping their wings, I was loudly trying to command Jacques to “leave it” (HA!!) – it was utter chaos for a very long 45 seconds before the geese flew away and we were able to contain our furry mess of a dog. It took Jacques another few minutes to calm down and realize that the geese were gone and that he couldn’t go after them. (You would think by this point I would know that my dog is insane… but nooo. Sometimes I think it’s *me* who has the problem with sanity. Or lack thereof.)
We left the dock in search of some suitable shoreline for the boys to explore. When we finally found some (away from people and geese), we removed the boys’ leashes and let them wander. Rocky meandered along the shoreline, occasionally going into the water just far enough to get his belly wet. He was more interested in smelling everything than swimming. Even after the great goose debacle, I figured Jacques was too much of a fraidy cat to actually get in the water. I figured wrong.
He had been meandering along the shoreline behind Rocky when he spotted something in the water – something he wanted to get. He literally hurled himself into the water and started swimming away from us. At first we were puzzled, then amused… then a little worried. Jacques had seen a large tree trunk sticking out of the water and went to investigate – the worrisome part was that this tree trunk was 30-40 feet from the shore. I started freaking out because I didn’t know if the little pork chop would be able to swim that far and back. I had no idea what his swimming abilities were like. I had terrible images of him getting tired and drowning running through my mind.
My husband wasn’t terribly concerned, but as we watched Jacques finally make it to the trunk, sniff it, and start back for shore my husband started taking his socks and shoes off and taking things out of his pocket – he was getting ready to go in and get the little guy. (I don’t know if it was because of Jacques’ grunting and visual cues that he was getting tired or if it was my frantic banter, okay, shrieking that moved him to action. It could’ve been either one…) Just as my husband was about to get into the water, Jacques made it back to where he could touch bottom and dragged himself the rest of the way to shore. He was panting heavily but otherwise seemed unfazed. I, on the other hand, was a nervous wreck. I couldn’t decide if I wanted to hug him or throw him back out in the lake. My husband gave me the “I told you he would be fine” look and seemed a little annoyed as he put himself back together. (Have I mentioned lately what a loving and patient husband I have?) Rocky was oblivious through it all and continued to sniff the grass and trees around the area. (I’m sure Rocky really cares about Jacques. Okay, I know all he really cares about are treats, food, B-O-N-E-Ses, and butt scratches, but I like to pretend he cares about other things.) After that “excitement,” we toweled everyone down and called it a day.
I decided that large bodies of water weren’t for us and went to the good old standby (and another one of Rocky’s favorite things) – the kiddie pool. Rocky used to run and cannonball into the pool, but in his older age, he’s a little more conservative about how he enters the pool. He trots, steps in, then falls over. It’s like a modified cannonball/cow tipping sort of thing. I wasn’t sure how it would work since Rocky literally takes up the entire pool, but that didn’t faze Jacques. He jumped right in with him then somehow managed to steal the pool from Rocky. It was quite the sight to see!
A battle for control of the pool ensued. It was like “King of the Mountain,” but it was “King of the Pool.” Rocky finally won the battle, so to console Jacques, my husband turned on the water hose and annoyed, er, entertained Jacques by letting him chase (but never “catch”) a stream of water around the yard. Rocky had his pool. Jacques was being tormented. We were all happy.
So, we learned that our dog that is part cat (and part leprechaun on St. Patrick’s Day – something else we recently discovered), is definitely not afraid of the water. (Seems like an oxymoron, doesn’t it?) The biggest lesson for me was that if Jacques is going anywhere near a body of water larger than a bathtub or a kiddie pool, he’s going to have to wear a doggie life vest because we never know what this crazy dog is going to do (or go after) next!!