Our story & dog boat safety
It’s not easy to write this. I’ve tried 4 different times to write down the story and each time I get stuck at the same place. But last night, at 2am I was able to get it all out on paper. So here it goes. My husband and I met on a Duffy electric boat, we got engaged on one, and we had one of the scariest experiences of our lives on one as well. On September 1st, 2018, we started out in Bay with another couple and all was well. As soon as we got on the boat I placed Pax’s life jacket on him and for some reason we decided to keep the leash on thinking that he probably wanted to go swimming but we had control of him… He decided to sit on the back area of the boat right behind Jarrod. About 5 minutes in the ride he slipped/ we think he jumped off the back right corner of the boat since he loves to swim. Jarrod said, “he’s in, babe he’s in” I jumped up and looked behind, Pax was on the corner of the boat paddling away with his life jacket keeping him afloat - this wouldn’t have been a problem except for the fact that his leash was caught and he was being pulled by the boat. Without thinking I dove straight in the water when I popped up I saw the boat was away from me and swam towards it. Jarrod was reaching down to grab the handle of Pax’s jacket and I was getting closer to the boat.
Once I was right behind the boat I kicked away as it was too close and they were able to grab Pax. My legs hit the boat propellers and I knew immediately something was wrong as it was a sharp immediate pain but also a state of calmness over my body. Fight or flight went into action and the adrenaline of everything just kicked in. I started to yell help, help me and my husband looked over at me like what? … I lifted my leg up out of the water and saw my skin flapped open on the top side of my foot. It looked different than other scratches and cuts I have had, I knew it was serious. My husband pulled me straight out from the water and that wasn’t easy. The length from water to the top of the boat was a large gap. They tied Pax’s leash around my right leg to create a truncate and called 911. The harbor police game and then the ambulance. We drove a million miles an hour to the hospital where I asked the EMT workers, “will I lose my leg?” …No response. I asked again and all I heard was the pain medicine they were administering and asking if I had any allergies. I sometimes wonder why ER people ask that because if you’ve never taken specific medication how are you supposed to know what you’re allergic to! Here’s to hoping! I don’t completely remember being pulled into the trauma center but was told we were heading there. I learned that the difference between a trauma center and an emergency room is that is equipped to treat the highest risk injuries- think gunshot wounds, car accidents, major burns, boating accidents in this case. Trauma centers offer more extensive care than the ER.
I don’t remember being wheeled in but I do remember laying down staring at a bright white light with a million nurses and doctors zipping around my bed. The shock lasted for hours until I went into my first surgery. I ended up staying in the hospital for 10 days with 3 different surgeries. The surgeries consisted of sewing up some major lacerations on the right side and one laceration on the left ankle. The right leg had much more damage such as toe fractures & cutting the tendons that flex my toes and ankle. I sliced my right calf in half and have a total of 6 gashes between the two legs. They found a foreign object in my leg that wasn’t a boat propeller, maybe it was a fish – who knows? :)
Interestingly enough, when I was admitted into the trauma center on that fateful day I was given an alternative name by the team. They do this with all patients entering the wing as some patients come in unconscious or unable to speak or have any of their identifications. The name I was given was, Yakima Sixty-seven. When I googled what, it’s meaning was my mouth dropped wide open.
“You have a strong need for freedom - physical, mental and spiritual. You hate bondage in any form. You have love of beauty and philosophy, and you desire achievement. You are willing to take spiritual matters on faith instead of subjecting them to mental analysis. You are inventive, intuitive and extremely methodical. Since your will is so strong, you are hard to convince.” When I looked up the numbers 67 I found that 67 is described as a sign from angels which are here to help you realize your higher purpose in life!! Furthermore, in numerology the number 67 represents the idea of family first and keeping them secure.
Ha! If you know me on a personal level this sounds quite fitting don’t ya think? In the end my accident resulted in 6 lacerations, 2 fractured toes, and 2 right foot tendons severed. I am off my right foot for 6 weeks and will wear a boot for 8-10 of those weeks. I’ve started physical therapy with going up and down my staircase and little walking but won’t really know the state of my functionality until later this year.
It could have been so much worse. That same day, someone was rushed to the hospital to treat the same type of incident and they lost their life. Another young woman lost her entire leg. This is temporary & I know that. It’s SO fascinating how and when things like this happen in your life. What do they teach us? What do they result in being for us? I don’t know the outcome of this but I do know that it’s given me a lot of time to think about what I want out of life and who I am as a person. I use to (and still do) come down on myself so hard. Whether it was my body and weight or something about my career or that I wasn’t doing enough. Now, just doing one thing a day is something to be grateful for. I speak kindly to my legs and send positivy and kisses to them multiple times a day. What an adventure life puts us on. This has defiantly prepared me for more challenging experiences to come…I am ready for them.
During this time, I’ve been able to truly focus on Pax’s instagram and Leader of the Pax. The stories that that people have shared and the well wishes I have received have been priceless. Gratitude for my life has been my motivator through the recovery process. The first thing people say to me when they learn about the injury is, “I’m so sorry you’re going through this and you’re just so strong- hang in there!” The funny thing is, I’m not sorry. I’m not sorry at all that this happened to me. The perspective I’ve gained is unlike any other. Living in a hospital for going on 10 days is quite fascinating and you really learn a lot about yourself AND you have to let go of control. I’m so grateful for this experience no matter how painful it is because I’ve been able to see people, things, and my body at its most basic level. I’m a go go go person and FINALLY the universe said stop. So, while I was there I got to chat with my family and be present with them. I got to walk around the entire nurses’ station with the staff cheering me on and got to truly FEEL the accomplishment. I got to feel the swelling of my toes and the aftermath of walking. We go through life clicking likes and scrolling through pages without feeling each moment. The biggest lesson I’ve learned so far is to be vulnerable enough to *feel* the core of each experience in order to grow. I know much more than I did before this experience happened and I know that I will triumph forward.
Hopefully, you will never have to go through what I have experienced but just in case, here are some boat safety tips I have put together:
Dog Boat Safety Tips:
Plan on what you will do in case of an emergency - such as your dog going overboard.
Practice the plan… I know this sounds ridiculous but it’s super important to know a few options you could do. Of course, in the event of the accident, it’s not going to go totally to plan so at least talk with those you are on the boat with what you would do. Ex: if someone jumps in make sure the boat is off.
Craft a doggy first aid kit… any medications your dog is on, Dramamine in case of sea sickness (make sure to ask your vet!)
Make sure your pup is in a life jacket- even great swimmers can easily drown in rough waters. I swear that having Pax in a life jacket helped him stay above water and paddle! Also, most dog life jackets have a handle which helps you grab the handle and pull them back to safety (that is how my husband got him out of the water)
Did you know dogs need sunscreen too? Look for a dog friendly brand.
Plenty of water- especially if they go swimming. Dogs can become dehydrated on a hot sunny boat.
I wish we had better commands for being on the boat so he was trained to stay out of the water while the boat was moving…things like “on boat” or “off boat” — make sure to brush up on your basic commands like sit, stay, lie down, and leave it.
If you own a boat or your renting, try a non-slip pad for the bottom of your boat and let your pup try it out
Additionally, let your pup check out the boat before you leave the dock to get comfortable.
Dogs are naturally curious and if they are not secure they can fall in. I’ve researched mixed results about the leash. Some of the articles I’ve read say keep the dog secure with a leash without much give another say have the dog free so if they fall in at least they are away from the boat or propellers. I would check with your vet and do some research on what you feel you’re more comfortable with. I also think that the leash should be attached to the boat not in your hand- that is personal preference based off my experience.