Of Dogs and Their Two-legged Friends
By Chuck Lauer, Healthcare Policy Expert
Lisa is one of those young people who makes the world a better place for those who know and love her. She manages the community fitness center where I work out, and the place runs on her vitality, bonhomie and comradery. Lisa loves rollerblading and is a member of one of the top teams in the Chicago area. She doesn’t talk about it very much, but she loves the sport and is very competitive. In fact, she doesn’t talk much about herself period, but the other day I could not help noticing how sad she seemed.
It turns out her wonderful 12-year-old dog had passed away the night before. Olive was a Pit Bull/Boxer mix who had recently been diagnosed with a mass in her chest. Olive was Lisa’s constant companion, and they shared many adventures. We aren’t supposed to mourn pets like we do people, but the grief is often just as intense. Words never really convey the feelings you have. Lisa, as a lifelong dog lover, my heart goes out to you.
Now, having shared a sad dog story, let me tell you an uplifting tale (pun intended) that will make you feel better about the world.
Donald Copps, who like me spends time in Naples, Fla., in winter, was looking after a 4-year-old black Labrador Retriever by the name of Carbon, whose owners had gone off for a long, globe-trotting trip. One day Mr. Copps and two of his friends decided to hit some golf balls, and Carbon went along to retrieve the balls, one of his favorite things to do. The area they used was bordered on one side by a lake. This being south Florida, the lake was inhabited by a couple of 7-foot-long alligators. By mistake one of Mr. Copps’ friends hit a ball into the lake, and Carbon dived right in after it, directly in front of an alligator. The gator got hold of Carbon’s left rear leg, but Carbon managed to get away. While all of this is going on the two friends of Mr. Copps were screaming as loud as possible to distract the gator. Meanwhile, Mr. Copps had jumped into the lake to try to save the dog. After shoving Carbon toward the ashore, it dawned on Mr. Copps that the alligator might turn on him, which is exactly what happened. He remembers watching the eyes of the alligator as it slid through the water toward him. Mr. Copps managed to back away from the alligator and exit the lake.
At this point Carbon was yelping from the wound he has suffered, and Mr. Copps grabbed him with a blanket and put him into his golf cart. He and his two friends then rushed off to their car and all went with Carbon to a local veterinarian. Luckily there was no lasting damage, though Carbon received stitches and had to wear one of those plastic cones around his neck for a couple of weeks while his incision healed. This lucky dog has returned to good health.
When I tell people Carbon’s story and explain the circumstances, everyone says they would have done exactly what Mr. Copps did in jumping in to save the dog, even if they were only taking care of someone else’s pet. You can count me in as someone who would have saved Carbon, though I wonder how well I might have fared in getting out ahead of that gator. It gives you some idea of the high regard we have for our dogs.
But what about you, would you have jumped into a lake you knew was teeming with alligators, one of which was already attacking a dog? My little survey is skewed because I have only asked people I know are dog lovers. For everyone else, it is an even more interesting question.
Let’s hope none of us ever have to make that decision.
-Chuck Lauer

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