Spring is upon us. Lily Walter of Slip Away Farm tells me that they still have a few memberships available in their CSA program. To sign up, call the farmhouse at 508-627-7465 or visit slipawayfarm.com.

You probably read about the dog rescued from the ice last week. I want to fill you in on a few more details. That dog was lucky in half a dozen ways. When the communications center sends out a radio page for rescuers to go to the aid of an animal in trouble out on the ice, we all hop right to it. It’s not just concern for a dog in distress. We all have a soft spot in our hearts for human’s best friend. But experience has taught us that more often than not the next radio transmission will be to notify us that a person has gone out onto the ice to save the dog and has also fallen through the ice. A human submerged in near-freezing water is in big trouble. One thing that the individuals who work in emergency services have in common is a very big soft spot in their hearts for a fellow human in distress. It’s such a big soft spot that we are tempted to put our own well-being and safety at risk. So we make sure that we are properly equipped and trained so that we can come to the aid of another without harm to ourselves. It’s no help at all if a rescuer becomes another victim. To my mind the most dangerous part of our job is driving to the scene. We have grown accustomed to the risk inherent in riding in an automobile. It’s a testament to our great faith in our fellow humans that we trust each other to pass in the opposite direction just feet apart.

In the Gazette online comment section following this story, one person expressed her appreciation that there are so many people willing to risk their lives to save animals and that our reward would be in heaven. I want to reassure her that we don’t risk our lives in the performance of our duty whether rescuing dogs or people. We all have loved ones who care about us and depend on us to come home every night. Our job is hazardous, but our first priority is our own safety. We actually get our reward right away. It’s knowing that we helped.

So back to the details of the dog on the ice. Lucky that the dog had a companion who barked to draw the attention of a person who was luckily just by chance out for a hike on that deserted stretch of beach. Lucky that she knew to call for help. Good for her that she didn’t take it upon herself to go out on the ice. Ice that won’t hold a dog surely won’t hold a human.

Lucky for the dog that she broke through in just the right spot. We found her in a hole in the ice about four feet in from the edge of the ice sheet. She was standing on the sandy bottom with her elbows on top of the ice. Her head and nearly half of her torso were above the freezing water. Heat loss through a mammal’s head is the main cause of hypothermia. That water is salt water, which means that it is still liquid at 28 degrees. So there she was; standing in just the right depth of water. The ice shelf ended right at the edge of a shoal. Just a little farther back the water under the ice was five feet deep. Out beyond the edge of the ice the open water was about two feet deep. Being in water of those depths would have been a whole lot less lucky for that dog because she would have been submerged and swimming. Add tired to cold and you are done for. Another easily forgotten hazard with salt ice is that there is usually a current running under it. This carries away body heat and adds to the difficulty of staying afloat without being swept under the ice.

Lucky for us all that day, humans and dogs alike. Luckily this critter was accessible by boat. Rescue from shore would have taken a lot of time. We could still have done it, but remember we’ve got lots of equipment and lots of training. Don’t be shy about calling for help.

Send your Chappy news to: peter@chappyferry.net.