I've never had a dog that was remotely interested in swimming before. Or playing with balls, for that matter. But for some reason, our little one-year-old cocker spaniel, Henry, has taken to both activites, pretty much on his own.
The swimming started with a rather nerve-racking experience while walking along the tow-path of the River Thames, near Barnes, a couple of weeks ago. We've taken him along the path a couple of times before and he's naughtily jumped down onto the beach at low tide and run down to the water's edge and splashed around in the shallows without actually going out of his depth. Since he's become a little ball-obsessed we thought we'd see if he could swim, so we threw the ball in, about 2 feet out. Off he went, trying to grab his squidgy ball, but as he tried to grab he managed to push it further and further out with each attempt to grab. Both hubby and I suddenly felt a bit panicky, watching our little man swim out into the Thames, which is renowned for its nasty tidal currents. The panic didn't last long as he eventually managed to grab the ball, before maneouvering himself around and swimming back to shore, green ball proudly in his mouth!
So since the there's been no keeping him out of water! If he's off
the lead and finds water, he'll be in it - which is clearly something we
need to keep an eye on. Last weekend we took him to Battersea Park and
into the Duck Pond he ran, not chasing after ducks, but just wanting to play about in the water . We threw in the ball and he retrieved it, then swam back to the edge of the ond, climbed out and dumped it at our
feet, wanting more. He did get a little panicky and splashed around a
bit, as it was a bit of a climb up in order to get out. He was
very pongy after that trip, so a bath with full shampoo and conditioner was
in order when we got home.
I went to the Thames again this week, just west of Richmond, on the south side of the river with a couple of friends and their dogs. We walked a long a bit and as soon as he reached a boat launch he was off - straight into the water! The tide was low again and he didn't even need the ball thrown in for encouragement, although he loved to fetch the ball from the river and wait for me to throw it in again. One of the other dogs' balls was thrown in to encourage her to swim, but it was a little too far out. I pointed at the ball to Henry and told him to "get the ball!" and off he went. On the first attempt he missed it (the ball bobbing around behind him) and he swam back, but soon went out again (only about 2 or 3 metres) to get the ball, bringing it back to dry land, the hero of the day for rescuing the ball!