Family dog rescued on New Year’s Day

A family dog lives to see another day after a daring rescue on Hirsch Creek in Kitimat.

A Kitimat family could sleep soundly on January 1 knowing they still had their pets with them.

The Calkins family nearly lost their two dogs, Brody and Duke, when they fell into the water during a family hike along Hirsch Creek at Hirsch Creek Park.

Shane and Sharmin had taken three of their four kids, along with a friend, for the walk when the two dogs were allowed to run free after they had finished their lunch.

But the hike suddenly took a turn for the worse when the two dogs unknowingly walked onto thin ice and fell into the chilly waters.

The Calkins’ 10-year-old son shouted for his parents to call 9-1-1, and would eventually wait at the entrance of the park for police to arrive to guide them to the distressed dogs.

The older dog, Brody, was able to get himself free from the water on his own, but the situation looked grim for Duke.

By the time police officers arrived, which was a good half hour after the dogs first fell in the water, it looked almost certain that Duke wasn’t going to make it. He had all but given up trying to get out of the water and was just hanging on.

“There was no way we could get out to them,” said Sharmin. “We would have fallen in too.”

She said that Duke looked ready to just give up and that the officers arrived at just the perfect time to make the rescue.

As the two officers and another man, who was in the area snowshoeing, prepared for the rescue, Sharmin took the kids away.

“It was very upsetting,” she said.

From the perspective of Cst. Andrew Johnstone, who arrived with Cst. Dan Kelly, the situation was an example of an officer never knowing how a day is going to go.

Johnstone and Kelly arrived around 1:30 p.m. to the park to find a 10-year-old in tears. In the distance they could hear Duke crying in the water.

To get out to the dog the officers and the snowshoeing bystander tied together 100 feet of rope in order for someone to reach the distressed pet. (The Sentinel hasn’t been able to confirm the name of this person, but feel free to contact us if that was you.)

It was Cst. Dan Kelly who donned a life jacket and carefully walked out to the water and the dog.

When the ice got too thin, as Cst. Kelly ventured further out, he had to get onto his hands and knees to make it the final 15 feet to Duke.

Duke, described as a great, aggressive defender of the family, put up no resistance when Kelly grabbed him by the collar and pulled up back up.

Duke ran straight back to his family, uncharacteristically quiet.

“You don’t know day-to-day what kind of calls you’re going to get on your shift,” said Johnstone, saying he certainly wasn’t expecting a call like this one.

The police had called Water Rescue, based in Terrace, on their way to the park but with time running out they clearly couldn’t have waited. Water rescues like these are not part of the typical RCMP training, said Johnstone.

With Duke and Brody at home the day following their whole ordeal, Sharmin said they’ve been taking it easy.

“They’re sleeping. They got up this morning, went outside to go to the bathroom and came back in and they haven’t moved,” she said.

They were still that way even a couple of days after.

Sharmin didn’t say whether Duke and Brody got a few extra treats with their meal that New Year’s evening following their ordeal, but she said they certainly got a few extra servings of family cuddles.

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