If it wasn’t for the quick thinking of several Eskasoni residents, the friendly three-year-old black Labrador retriever might not have made it to Monday afternoon.
It all began around 8:30 a.m. when owner Belinda Stevens called in sick from her job at the school board. She would normally drive her grandsons to school but since she was feeling under the weather, the, brothers Larry Stevens Jr., 13, and Dean Stevens, 12, walked to the bus stop. T-Bone followed them but then became spooked by the barking of other dogs and ran off towards some nearby ice-covered water, where he fell in.
“He’s not much of a fighter,” said Belinda Stevens, adding that her grandson Larry phoned the fire department and then her, to let her know what had happened.
“I didn’t know what to do. I had a nervous stomach, like butterflies, I’m either going to hear that he’s drowned or he’s going to be running home really soon. And before I knew it, the fire truck was coming up our driveway and bringing him home. Oh my god, I was so happy.”
One of the rescuers was RCMP Const. Jason Bernard who was driving along the Crane Cove Road on Monday morning at about 8:45 a.m. when he noticed a crowd had gathered alone the shoreline.
“I pulled over and asked what was going on and a lady said the dog went through the ice,” said Bernard. “I asked if anybody had been called to come and they said they called the fire truck in so I got out of the car because at that point it was like ‘wow, we have to do something.’”
At one time it appeared the dog had gotten out of water of his own accord but a few minutes later, he had fallen in again. When Eric Stevens, Belinda’s nephew, pulled in to see what was going on, Stevens and Bernard decided no more time could be wasted if they were going to save the animal. It wasn’t going to be an easy rescue.
“It’s hard — in the winter time, there’s no boats on the side, there’s nothing there and I know trying to get on the ice isn’t safe, too. because if the dog was in, obviously if a person tries to rescue him, he could go in too,” said Bernard.
He and Stevens found a canoe and ended up dragging it across the ice for about 75 feet, to where the dog was.
“We used what we had — we didn’t have safety suits, we didn’t have time to get anything anyway,” said Bernard. “But that gave us more time to get to the dog and, luckily, at the end, it all worked out.”
Once they got the dog ashore, they took him home to Belinda. She immediately phoned the school to let her grandsons know that T-Bone was OK. After T-Bone spent a few hours warming up, the energetic pup was back to his old self. And for that, Belinda Stevens is grateful.
“It gave us quite a scare,” she said. “But I’m was really thankful that everything worked out.”