Dog Blog: how to avoid a ruff time on the ice

On March 3, 2014, the crew of Coast Guard Cutter Bristol Bay, homeported in Detroit, rescued a dog that was stranded on the ice on Lake St. Clair. The crew named him Lucky and he has since been reunited with his owners. Following his rescue, he asked us to share some tips to keep his K-9 friends safe on the ice.

Crew members assigned to Coast Guard Cutter Bristol Bay hoist aboard the ship a dog they found stranded on the ice of Lake St. Clair March 4, 2014.The dog was taken inside the ship, where it was provided food and first aid before being transferred to an area animal shelter for further care.U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy Cutter Bristol Bay

Crew members assigned to Coast Guard Cutter Bristol Bay hoist aboard the ship a dog they found stranded on the ice of Lake St. Clair March 4, 2014.The dog was taken inside the ship, where it was provided food and first aid before being transferred to an area animal shelter for further care.U.S. Coast Guard photo courtesy Cutter Bristol Bay

Woof! Woof! Ok ignore the squirrel for a second and listen up, Cujo. I want to talk to you about some important information that could save your life or the lives of your pack mates.

I agree that those ducks out on the lake would be really fun to chase, but before you go in full-speed, consider the acronym “ICE,” which stands for Information, Clothing (in your case: fur) and Equipment.

Information – If you plan on going out, make sure to get the most up-to-date information on weather and ice conditions during the ‘twilight bark,’ with your 101 Dalmatian friends, or just have your owner watch the news or check online.

Clothing –We know that dog clothes are not for every pup. Luckily, your fur is designed by nature to keep you warm. Your hairless owner won’t be as lucky, so drop their sandals and drag out their warm clothes or dry suit. They’ll thank you, eventually.

Slipping on a brightly colored or reflective collar can help searchers find you if you end up in distress.

Equipment – As a dog, you don’t need much. Nature has granted you a great sense of direction and a keen nose. If you’re like most dogs you can probably bark all day long at nothing.  Unfortunately, your human companions may need some help in this area. Some of them aren’t that smart.

 

Turk Spar Cummins, a Coast Guard mascot at Coast Guard Station Elizabeth City, N.C., sits awaiting a turn to ride in the stations boat. U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Harry Craft III

Turk Spar Cummins, a Coast Guard mascot at Coast Guard Station Elizabeth City, N.C., sits awaiting a turn to ride in the stations boat.
U.S. Coast Guard photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Harry Craft III

Don’t let your human leave home without a marine radio, a Personal Locater Beacon, life jacket, compass and screwdrivers or ice picks. As a dog, you don’t have to worry about those last two items. Your claws will help you grab the ice for self-rescue, and not having opposable thumbs would make holding on to a screwdriver challenging.  Humans, on the other hand, really need the extra help to pull themselves onto an ice shelf.

Sit! This is important in keeping you from becoming a pup-sicle.

Remember to tell someone you trust, which probably rules out the cat, where you’re going and when you plan on coming back. Rescuers can use that information to find you faster whether you fall through or just get sidetracked sniffing a tree on your way home.

But that’s not all. Chew on your bone and think back to when you were a puppy. Yeah, you remember, you followed your poor mother everywhere. If you’re headed out, run as a pack and stick together. Just make sure you spread out so that if one of you falls through, you both don’t go in. Doggy paddle is no fun in a frozen lake.

Ruh roh! What happens if you’re out on the ice and it starts to creak and groan just like the scary vacuum cleaner? Instead of tucking your tail and trying to climb on top of the couch, get low and spread out your weight. Then crawl or roll back to shore if necessary. As a dog, you’re probably used to rolling, but you might have to help your human out.

So there you have it Fido, a few tips and best practices for you next time the geese get a little too close to your domain or you take your human out on the ice.