The Press Newspaper
Abbey, a Golden Retriever that belongs to the Edwards family, became the
guest of honor on her seventh birthday at the Woodville Township Fire House three days before Christmas.
Just hours earlier, Abbey’s life had been in impending danger after falling through ice into a pond.
Michael Edwards, a Bowling Green State University freshman computer science major, happened to be home with his guitar when the Edwards family Boxer, Tucker, began barking at the front door to be let into the house.
Usually, both Tucker and Abbey are waiting at the door, but this time only Tucker was there.
“When I went to put them back in I couldn’t find Abbey. I looked around for her, went up to my parents’ window and looked out the bay window and saw her in the pond. I went out there and she was trying to get out and she couldn’t get out on the ice from the water,” Michael said.
“I decided I’d go out and see if I could get her but I didn’t think the ice would hold me all the way. So I called my mom and asked her what to do,” Michael continued.
His mother, Karen Edwards, a state licensed counselor, left work and arrived on the scene with a neighbor as Michael called the fire department.
“It was scary,” Karen said. “When we realized we couldn’t get her out — I mean, there was nothing we could do — the ice was thin where she was at. They got there just in time with the boat because at the end there she could only hold on with one paw and she kept falling under the water.”
Abbey had fallen into the middle of the pond, which covers approximately an acre.
“I didn’t think she’d go in this late in the year,” Michael said. “I hadn’t seen the pond at first, and I didn’t look out there but my brother had told me that there was a hole there and she probably swam in there. She probably went after the ducks or something.”
As a pup, Abbey had surgery because of hip displacement, which increased the danger of her not being able to stay afloat.
“She was trying to get out on the side and she couldn’t get up and she’d place her paws up there and she’d slip. She got tired after a while and she kept like falling off and going under the water,” Michael added. “I don’t how much longer she would have lasted.”
Michael’s father, Kevin, was at his job at the Davis-Besse nuclear power plant,
and Michael’s 13-year-old brother Ethan was at school. The Edwards family resides at 551 East County Road (a.k.a., Port Clinton Road) just outside Woodville.
The first responders to arrive were full time paramedics Nicole Gilmore-Ray and Jeff Herman. They had to wait for firemen to arrive.
Gilmore-Ray said this situation frequently results in a human falling through the ice while trying to rescue an animal, so that’s why EMS personnel were at the scene.
“It was pretty scary for a while,” Gillmor-Ray said. “It was because for safety reasons we can’t respond in the ambulance until they get the boat and the wet suits out. There was really nothing we could do but encourage Abbey to stay above water and comfort the family until the fire department got there with the boat and the wet suits.”
Fortunately Abbey was able to stay in view and when she slipped into the water did not slide under the ice.
Woodville Township Fire Department Captain Dave Miller said eight fire fighters responded to the call as well as EMS personnel.
“Basically, we were called for a pet in the water in a pond and we responded to it, took our rescue boats, our water rescue suits, and a couple guys put them on and went out,” Captain Miller said. “The suits we have are made for them to be in cold water rescue, and that’s one of the reasons we brought them was because of the pond. The ice already had a hole in it so they knew they were going to go in the water.”
Matt Reardon and Matt Hasenfratz were the fire department swimmers who went into the water. Ben Brien was the boat operator.
“Matt Reardon is an experienced ice rescuer because for many years he was in the Coast Guard,” Gilmore-Ray said. “With the Coast Guard, being out on the lake, of course, they practice ice rescue continuously.”
Gilmore-Ray said the rescuers inadvertently pulled a trick that may have helped Abbey stay afloat longer.
“Actually we had sent Karen off to the house,” Gilmore-Ray said. “We didn’t know how long Abbey had been in the pond and she was getting really tired and she was struggling. Those were pretty good signs of fatigue and we didn’t really want Karen to see her go down.
“So we had sent (Karen) off to the house to get some blankets, which we of course needed, but we didn’t want her to witness that. It was hard enough for us, too, but I think that really helped Abbey stave off water because as I was hollering at her trying to encourage her to stay up she was looking past me to see where Karen had went. I think that really encouraged her to stay above water.”
Sigh of relief
Other fire and emergency personnel at the scene included Cynthia Muranyi, Paul Heineman, Jordan Shaw, John Kruse, and Brad Paul.
Also at the scene was animal control representatives from Sandusky County, Michael Edwards said.
“She’s fine. They said that we might need to take her to the vet,” Michael said. “Animal control came out, too, and they looked at her and said you probably don’t have to take her. She’s fine. They said if she starts acting bad we’ll take her to the vet.”
Gillmor-Ray believes that Abbey’s previous experience swimming the pond probably saved her, as well as her winter coat.
“The fact that she swims in the pond from March until obviously December now, helped,” Gilmore-Ray said. “I talked to Karen that she does swim in the pond regularly helped her stay above water considerably longer than most dogs would have.”
That night at the fire station, many of the firemen and EMS personnel were gathered for drills. It turned into a birthday party for Abbey when she arrived along with a grateful Edwards family.
Gilmore-Ray said, “She (Karen) brought her (Abbey) up to the fire station and it just happened that it was drill night for the firemen. Oh boy, she came in and she just took over the place and we were just so happy to see her doing well. We were very happy once we got her out of the water and into the house and once she started responding well to the treatment, getting dry and warm.”
The next day, Karen Edwards said, “She’s doing great. We took her to the fire department last night and got those pictures, and she was just in heaven having all this attention. It was so wonderful. Just everybody was wonderful. They helped us afterwards with everything.”
That next day, Gilmore-Ray said she still had a smile on her face.
“I am still on Cloud Nine. It was wonderful. We were flying high for the rest of the shift and it continued into the day,” she said.
“You know, I’m a dog lover and my family has had animals for years and years. I have three dogs of my own and a couple cats, and a guinea pig, and I work part time and my mom owns a boarding kettle and I worked there for 20 years. So I was happy to be there to help her and know what to do for her. That’s part of your family.”