From a Gazette edition of 1928:
Buffy, a brown spaniel dog owned by Norman G. Benson of Lambert’s Cove, holds the Island’s canine swimming record, having crossed Vineyard Sound last week under his own power when washed or pitched overboard from his master’s boat. It is believed probable that the dog may have been forced to land as far east as Cape Pogue owing to the strong east tide that was running. If this is accepted, more than double the distance across the sound was travelled by the dog, as he went into the water near the bell buoy off Nobska.
The dog, which is eight years old, has been Mr. Benson’s pet duck dog since his puppyhood and has been his constant companion ashore and afloat, always accompanying his master, who is a fisherman, when he goes to haul his fish traps.
Some of these traps are near home while others are set in Buzzards Bay, necessitating a trip across the sound and back by motor boat each day they are hauled.
Mr. Benson’s boat, which is a fairly large one, is fitted with a pilot house and engine room that extends clear across the width of the boat, leaving a small area of unrailed deck aft. There is a large cockpit forward where fish and gear are commonly carried and the wise little dog had learned that this last-named place is an uncomfortable one to travel in.
As there are many places aboard where a small dog can curl up out of the way of everyone, Buffy has never been in the way and in consequence his master has never bothered to keep track of him when aboard, which is the reason he did not notice that the dog was on the flat afterdeck when he left Woods Hole last Friday after hauling his traps and marketing his fish.
Buffy Is Missing
Just off the bell buoy the boat encountered two or three heavy seas and Mr. Benson realized that the boat was pitching badly but gave no thought to his dog. He believes now that the dog was washed or pitched overboard right there, as several men noticed him on the deck when the boat left the Hole. At any rate he was missing when the boat reached Lambert’s Cove.
The family had to be told, naturally, and all were disconsolate, especially Mr. Benson’s little daughter, who had played with Buffy since babyhood, being the same age as the dog. Mr. Benson himself believed that the dog stood a chance of gaining shore, as he knew the dog was a powerful swimmer and was familiar with tides, having retrieved many a bird from the swift currents along shore.
But the day passed; it was about 11:30 when the boat was in the rip and less than an hour later when she landed. The night came and went and Saturday passed with no tidings from Buffy. “Surely,” the Bensons thought, “little Buffy has gone.”
At ten o’clock Saturday night Brett Stokes, a near neighbor and employee of Benson, saw Buffy walking slowly into his yard, tired, sorefooted and covered with crystallized salt. Stokes picked up the dog and took him to his owner, whom he aroused from sleep to take charge of his pet. And it goes without saying that Benson did no complaining about being disturbed.
Mr. Benson believes that the dog came home first and being unable to get into the house, went to Stokes’ where he is in the habit of going and where he is very much at home.
Tried to Tell His Story
“He tried awfully hard to tell me where he had been,” said Benson, “but I couldn’t understand; I wish I could.”
Mr. Benson says that the east tide was running at the time his boat crossed the rip, and had about four hours to go before it turned. He doesn’t believe that his dog would attempt to swim against it, but would go with it, working inshore as he was swept along. But even though the dog swam well, his owner is convinced that he could not have landed except on a west tide and that he might have made the shore anywhere between Cape Pogue and Anthier’s, from which point he walked home. This would account for his feet being sore. But it is also possible that the dog may have been swept clear of the Island into the ocean and landed on South Beach.
One reason why Mr. Benson believed that his dog had a chance was an episode which occurred a year ago last winter when the dog went into the sound at Anthier’s after a brant. Wind and tide took the bird offshore and the dog was out of sight for an hour and a half, returning to land without showing any sign of fatigue.
Up to Monday night no one had reported seeing the dog anywhere on the land or in the water, but Mr. Benson is still hopeful that someone may turn up who will give him a clue as to the course taken by his dog on his return home.
Compiled by Cynthia Meisner