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Happy Saved My Best Friend.

My Irish Setter Oliver – who is utterly terrified of his own reflection in the glass shower door, who cowers in fear every time he can smell the oven turned on, who drops to the ground and shows his belly if so much as a teacup chihuahua growls at him – had no qualms about jumping head first into glacial whitewater for what I imagine he expected to be a nice, cooling swim.

The same skittery dog – who takes a good 2 minutes marching on the spot in focus before he can muster the courage to jump into the backseat of the car – managed to scramble his scrawny butt out of the raging rapids and onto a narrow trunk of a fallen tree.

This feat and a few other miracles saved his life this weekend. I am still recovering – physically and mentally. I will have a recipe for you soon, I promise. But for now, I just have a story.

The weather I have been whining about describing lately (you know, the incessant rain that was June) has caused the mountain creeks to come alive into raging rivers, remorseless in their destruction; barrelling down toward some unknown mother river.

We were hiking. Oliver was frolicking. I saw a river ahead. Oliver saw the river ahead. I screamed, “PUT THE LEASH ON THE DOG!” to Adarsh, ahead of me on the trail, but it was too late. Oliver made a sprint, followed by a dive, and he was instantly thrust into the raging waters. I charged in after him, frantically fighting the current, gripping overhead branches for stability, my voice locked in a bloodcurdling scream. Oliver was facing me, terrified eyes locked on mine, fighting the current with all of his might as he was sucked backwards away from me. My friend Ronnie wisely ran downstream before he, too, jumped in to try to catch him, but within seconds of his dive, Oliver was whipped around the river-bend, out of our sight.

When his bobbing furry head was pulled from my view I had a moment of paralysis, wherein I thought, “This is over. I’ve lost my dog.”, and the grief was so strong that I could barely breathe; my muscles were frozen.

After a moment of agony, the fog lifted with a thundering, “NO, this is NOT over”. I prayed ferociously and fought my way out of the water.

The river went under the highway just after the bend where Oliver disappeared. As I struggled my way out of the woods, I felt the world melting around me in slow motion. My voice, my feet – everything was leaden and sluggish. Nothing was moving, nothing existed except the swift water that was carrying my precious Oliver away from me. I finally made it across to the other side of the highway. I stood in shock at what I saw: the river was ripping through the dense forest with no trails to provide relief. Crushed with despair, I stood screaming Oliver’s name at the thick woods and raging river, my voice reaching octaves that probably only the dog could hear.

I turned back around, scanning the woods for my people to emerge behind me, when miracle of miracles, I spotted Oliver – ALL FOUR PAWS on a narrow log that was somehow wedged, immobile, perpendicular to the current. His poor sopping legs were shaking furiously. He looked at me desperately as I burst into tears, screaming his name. I charged back into the river after him. The water was deeper and stronger at this point. I was back in up to my chest, feet firmly planted on the soft ground, fingers grasping a root so hard my palms were pierced by my own fingernails. Oliver’s log was only 5 feet from me but if I were to let go of my tether to the riverbank I would have been swept down the river. Oliver looked at me frantically and sat down, peering into the current. I begged him to stay. He kept nervously standing back up and contemplating the rushing water, lifting a paw, obviously considering jumping in to get to me. If he had jumped, he would have been just out of my reach before getting sucked back into the rapids.

“Adarsh, call 911”, I shouted. I had made a decision: if Oliver jumped, I was jumping too.

But Oliver didn’t jump, he sat back down, his chestnut brown eyes staring trustingly into mine, begging me silently to get him off of his log. I was frozen in the worst state of hopelessness I have ever felt. I couldn’t come up with a solution to save my life, or his, as was the case. Separated by two arms’ lengths by water moving with the speed and force of a truck, we stared at each other; me sobbing, hands shaking violently; him every so often dipping a paw in the rapids, me screaming; and everyone else staring in shock. The entire ordeal from him diving in upstream until that moment was probably ten minutes, but to me it felt like all of eternity.

Fear and helplessness were crushing down on me harder than the torrent as my body slowly numbed from the cold. My mind was as frozen as my limbs; I was completely powerless against the situation. Then suddenly I heard a voice behind me. “It’s okay, don’t worry”. A stranger with a thick Indian accent had one hand on my shoulder. His other hand was thumping his chest to affirm that he was going to help, his head bobbling in the peaceful Indian gesture that means “yes”, “no”, “maybe”, “hello”, and apparently, “it’s okay, I’m going to risk my life for you”.

I trusted him. I felt relief wash over me. He dragged a fallen tree trunk down the riverbank, stood it up in the water, and tipped it over to the log that held Oliver. He himself climbed across the tree, retrieved my beloved dog, and thrust him into my arms before Ronnie dragged both of us out of the river.

His name was “Happy”. He barely spoke English. He pulled his Honda civic, circa 1990, over on the side of the highway and threw himself into danger for total strangers. No hesitation, he took control of the situation. He solved the problem that the rest of us were incapable of solving. He crossed a raging river on a skinny log. Who would do that for a stranger’s dog?

How many people are willing to physically help in an emergency? Some people might stop, dial 911, or do what they could do from the safety of solid ground. But how often do you think a stranger would put themselves in physical danger to assist someone? It was a miracle he was there.

Happy is my hero. He saved my Oliver, my furry little guy, my best friend.

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Unhip Squirrel
8 years ago

Jenn, your post brought me to tears. I still feel sick when I think about how you almost lost Oliver. I am so glad he is safe.

Jennifer Pallian
8 years ago
Reply to  Unhip Squirrel

Thank you Nicola, he is safe and napping in the sunshine now.  🙂 

Tina Francis/ @teenbug

Wow. What a horrifying experience….

I’m so touched by how much you love that dog.  And mondo-impressed/touched/humbled by Happy. 

[cue ‘Whatta man, whatta man, whatta a mighty good man”]

I’m so glad you and your bestie are okay. 

Suffocating hugs,
Teen

Jennifer Pallian
8 years ago

Whatta man indeed.  Thanks Teen, I needed a hug 🙂 

Kelsey
Kelsey
8 years ago

Wow. how frightening. I had tears in my eyes while reading your story! I have a French Bulldog, and he ran away from me- sprinted from the False Creek dog park all the way across Pacific Boulevard, up the stairs of Rogers Arena, and down the overpass to our apartment downtown- all by himself. It was the scariest thing, as he went out of my sight as well and could have gotten hit on the busy street that cars go whizzing by, so I can understand partly how you felt through this horrible ordeal. Glad all of you are now safe and I’m happy Happy was there 🙂

Jennifer Pallian
8 years ago
Reply to  Kelsey

I think traffic is as terrifying as whitewater, Kelsey.  I’m glad your story had a happy ending too.  

The Other Jenn
The Other Jenn
8 years ago

So I haven’t met Oliver, but the thought of your roggle doggle being swept down the river with my Jenniber has me choking up and in tears. So glad both of you are ok!  

Jennifer Pallian
8 years ago
Reply to  The Other Jenn

Thanks Jenn-Jenn, I’m sorry we made you cry! Roggle doggle and Jenniber are both safe and dry 🙂 XOXO

Jennifer Pallian
8 years ago
Reply to  The Other Jenn

Thanks Jenn-Jenn, I’m sorry we made you cry! Roggle doggle and Jenniber are both safe and dry 🙂 XOXO

Tinehoeppner
Tinehoeppner
8 years ago

Jenn, what a touching story! Such a great unselfish act of kindness..brought tears to me eyes. ( You also are a great writer; you should publish a book!)

Jennifer Pallian
8 years ago
Reply to  Tinehoeppner

A cookbook, perhaps! Thank you. 🙂

Jennifer Pallian
8 years ago
Reply to  Tinehoeppner

A cookbook, perhaps! Thank you. 🙂

HelenShideler
HelenShideler
8 years ago

And from yor Mama – I can barely read this – barley skim this – you were at much at risk as Oliver. I am sure this is beautifully written – and I am sure one day I will read it – but for now – I hope Oliver knows what a lucky dog he is and Ad realizes the treasure he has in you!

Love you completely 
oxo

Jennifer Pallian
8 years ago
Reply to  HelenShideler

Love you too, mama…. we’ll try to avoid river jumping from now on, promise. XOXOX

Rose Mary
Rose Mary
8 years ago

oh my oh my, I’m glad you got out of that safe and sound!  Your mom told me about this, this weekend.  Happy is an angel! 

Jennifer Pallian
8 years ago
Reply to  Rose Mary

I agree, he’s an angel. 

Susan Wall
Susan Wall
8 years ago

I am glad there was a happy ending to your ordeal.  Oliver sounds like a much loved, precious, pup.

Jennifer Pallian
8 years ago
Reply to  Susan Wall

A Happy ending literally! 🙂 And yes, he is. 

Lea Malley-Parks
Lea Malley-Parks
8 years ago

OMG What a wonderful and frightening testament to humankind and the love of a pet. Oliver is a lucky,beautiful dog. . God bless Happy.  You,also are very lucky to have survived yourself as well as Oliver. 
You had me in tears as yourwritten words were so vivid.  You really should submit your story to Readers Digest, or some kind of magazine for the world to hear about how the kindness of a complete stranger came to your aid. 

Jennifer Pallian
8 years ago

Thank you, Lea – I appreciate your kind words.  

Meg
Meg
8 years ago

i read this with tears in my eyes… i’m so glad this story has a happy ending, jenn! oliver is a beautiful and wonderful dog, and it was meant to be that a man named happy has made sure you’ll never forget what a blessing people & dogs can be in life 🙂

Jennifer Pallian
8 years ago
Reply to  Meg

Thanks Megs XOX

Jennifer Pallian
8 years ago

Thank you, Lea – I appreciate your kind words.  

KellyBDelaney
KellyBDelaney
8 years ago

Oh, god, I’m so glad you’re both okay. Thank goodness for Happy. Gotta go cry this out now. 😉

Jennifer Pallian
8 years ago
Reply to  KellyBDelaney

Awww :’-(  Don’t cry!  HUGS! 

Meg
Meg
8 years ago
Reply to  KellyBDelaney

 ps, i love this… i cry things out too 🙂

Laura
Laura
8 years ago

Well you obviously have a guardian angel named Happy out there 🙂 What a beautiful, selfless human being he is. So glad for you and your Oliver that everything turned out okay.

Jennifer Pallian
8 years ago
Reply to  Laura

Thank you, Laura!

Angela
Angela
8 years ago

Oh jeez, even though I knew the story had a happy ending from your into I was weeping the ugly cry as I read through. I’ve had pets all my life and love them dearly, this would have been a terrifying experience. However the outcome is so wonderful, what a great man to take notice and help out like this. I hope the people around him every day recognize how amazing he is. Thanks for sharing.

Jennifer Pallian
8 years ago
Reply to  Angela

I’m sorry to have made you cry… but I am so touched that you did… I, too, hope that the world knows how amazing Happy is!

Dani
8 years ago

that is one adorable dog you have. I’m glad it all turned out okay. 

Kristina
8 years ago
Reply to  Dani

I am holding my dachshund Basil SO TIGHT right now, as I read this story. I am so glad you are all safe! the unwavering and instant help from a stranger gives me hope.

Jennifer Pallian
8 years ago
Reply to  Kristina

Give him a squeeze from me too! 🙂 

Jennifer Pallian
8 years ago
Reply to  Dani

Thanks, Dani.

Irene
Irene
8 years ago

I’m so glad Oliver is OK- he is well and truly a part of your blog and I know we all love the cute photos and stories of him! What a lovely man!

Jennifer Pallian
8 years ago
Reply to  Irene

Thanks Irene.

@lynneux
@lynneux
8 years ago

I’m so glad you’re both Ok! Reading this brought me to tears, and brought back the terrifying day I watched my @ZooeyNuggs bounce off the front tire of a car and bolt into rush hour traffic on West Georgia Street. Something spooked her, she yanked, her leash slipped my hands and off she went. She was only six months old, in complete shock and I don’t know how I didn’t get hit by a car as I chased her, screaming, through traffic. In this case, my ‘Happy’ was a trio of VPD officers who happened to be making an arrest at Thurlow and Georgia. Hearing my screams, they turned, saw Zooey coming and all three seemed to dive for her. Somehow one of them came up with her leash.

I so feel for you–I have never felt such terror, and this was before we’d been together years like we have been now. I couldn’t imagine losing her. So, so thankful that everything turned out Ok. *hugs*

Aubrey
8 years ago
Reply to  @lynneux

I only just read this post (usually your blog is a daily read for me!) I am so glad for you that someone rescued Oliver! Our fur-babies really do mean the world to us don’t they? Hugs for you and wet-nose kisses for Oliver! Have a great Canada Day!

Jennifer Pallian
8 years ago
Reply to  Aubrey

Thank you so much, Aubrey – for both the daily read and for the hugs!! :’-)  

Jennifer Pallian
8 years ago
Reply to  @lynneux

How terrifying!! I’m glad Zooey and you both made it out okay, I can imagine the horror you felt. 

bee zettl
bee zettl
8 years ago

I only came here for the cinnamon bun recipe but I read this and I am sitting here with tears in my eyes. I am so glad Oliver is fine and that there are people out there willing to help, to get their hands dirty and take risks for strangers. 

And what a handsome fella he is – it makes me laugh, though, I have a 1 year old Cocker girl and always get asked whether she’s a setter: http://www.flickr.com/photos/beezzzkneez/6987018277/ Looking at that second photo she could be Oliver’s short-legged sibling!

Jennifer Pallian
8 years ago
Reply to  bee zettl

Forget sibling, that could be oliver himself when he was a puppy! So cute! I’ve never seen a redheaded cocker! She is adorable 🙂

Cjvegas
Cjvegas
8 years ago

just saw your post and cried the whole time I read it. I was so hoping at the end only good things were going to come of this. The brave person you are inspired Happy to help you. So good to hear that all ended so well and the deed of another helping  another is to make one believe in kindess and goodness.

Jennifer Pallian
8 years ago
Reply to  Cjvegas

Thank you, Cjvegas 🙂

Michelle
8 years ago

Oh my gosh!  Such a well-written account of what could only be described as a terrifying experience!  I felt like I was reading a novel, not a blog post!!  I’m so glad your furry companion (and you) are safe and sound.  I’m humbled when I hear stories like your’s of the kindness of strangers.  Literally takes my breath away.  

Meeker Key
Meeker Key
8 years ago

Oliver is beautiful and I am so glad to hear he is safe.  thank you for sharing.

aprilaakre
aprilaakre
8 years ago

wow this was really hard to read without crying. I am so glad you are both ok.

Reciperenovator
Reciperenovator
8 years ago
Reply to  aprilaakre

So very glad this had a happy ending, and that an angel appeared when you needed him.

Tildatoo
Tildatoo
8 years ago

Wow, we’re still crying here. You never know who will step in to help. Thank goodness (& Happy) that you and Oliver are safe. 

Kizz Robinson
Kizz Robinson
8 years ago

I hope all kinds of wonderful things happen for that man. I’m blubbering here at my desk and so glad you got your boy back.

Debbie Kelly
8 years ago

 Obviously he knew as you & I .a dog is mans best friend and worth everything to save,So glad your pup is ok!!!! What a story!!! Glad it had a happy ending

amberpagewrites
amberpagewrites
8 years ago

Wow. I’m fighting back tears here. That is a wonderful story. It’s nice to know good humans still exist.

Deb
Deb
8 years ago

thank God for Happy, if karma is real his is golden.  My heart was in my mouth reading your story, again, thank God for sending you Happy

Yolanda Chirico
8 years ago

I have never seen your blog before. I happened upon this while looking for a great cinnamon bun recipe (I’m looking forward to trying yours :). I came up on this post. Your writting is increadible, I was there with you as I read this. I have heard of so many people who lost their dogs this spring to the raging rivers, it’s been very very sad. I am in awe of Happy, what a beautiful person. I hope you’ve been able to see him again. Thank you for sharing this. I’m going to go hug my beautiful girl Niobe right now.

Unhip Squirrel
8 years ago

Jenn, your post brought me to tears. I still feel sick when I think about how you almost lost Oliver. I am so glad he is safe.

Jennifer Pallian
8 years ago
Reply to  Unhip Squirrel

Thank you Nicola, he is safe and napping in the sunshine now.  🙂 

Lara Odonoghue
Lara Odonoghue
8 years ago

Oh my goodness! I am so glad you are all safe! What an amazing man to rescue your dog

Tina Francis/ @teenbug

Wow. What a horrifying experience….

I’m so touched by how much you love that dog.  And mondo-impressed/touched/humbled by Happy. 

[cue ‘Whatta man, whatta man, whatta a mighty good man”]

I’m so glad you and your bestie are okay. 

Suffocating hugs,
Teen

Jennifer Pallian
8 years ago

Whatta man indeed.  Thanks Teen, I needed a hug 🙂 

Kelsey
Kelsey
8 years ago

Wow. how frightening. I had tears in my eyes while reading your story! I have a French Bulldog, and he ran away from me- sprinted from the False Creek dog park all the way across Pacific Boulevard, up the stairs of Rogers Arena, and down the overpass to our apartment downtown- all by himself. It was the scariest thing, as he went out of my sight as well and could have gotten hit on the busy street that cars go whizzing by, so I can understand partly how you felt through this horrible ordeal. Glad all of you are now safe and I’m happy Happy was there 🙂

Jennifer Pallian
8 years ago
Reply to  Kelsey

I think traffic is as terrifying as whitewater, Kelsey.  I’m glad your story had a happy ending too.  

Gatedudeswife
Gatedudeswife
8 years ago

An angel in disguise

Jennifer Pallian
8 years ago
Reply to  Gatedudeswife

Indeed!

HelenShideler
HelenShideler
8 years ago

And from yor Mama – I can barely read this – barley skim this – you were at much at risk as Oliver. I am sure this is beautifully written – and I am sure one day I will read it – but for now – I hope Oliver knows what a lucky dog he is and Ad realizes the treasure he has in you!

Love you completely 
oxo

Jennifer Pallian
8 years ago
Reply to  HelenShideler

Love you too, mama…. we’ll try to avoid river jumping from now on, promise. XOXOX

Rose Mary
Rose Mary
8 years ago

oh my oh my, I’m glad you got out of that safe and sound!  Your mom told me about this, this weekend.  Happy is an angel! 

Jennifer Pallian
8 years ago
Reply to  Rose Mary

I agree, he’s an angel. 

Susan Wall
Susan Wall
8 years ago

I am glad there was a happy ending to your ordeal.  Oliver sounds like a much loved, precious, pup.

Jennifer Pallian
8 years ago
Reply to  Susan Wall

A Happy ending literally! 🙂 And yes, he is. 

KellyBDelaney
KellyBDelaney
8 years ago

Oh, god, I’m so glad you’re both okay. Thank goodness for Happy. Gotta go cry this out now. 😉

Meg
Meg
8 years ago

i read this with tears in my eyes… i’m so glad this story has a happy ending, jenn! oliver is a beautiful and wonderful dog, and it was meant to be that a man named happy has made sure you’ll never forget what a blessing people & dogs can be in life 🙂

Laura
Laura
8 years ago

Well you obviously have a guardian angel named Happy out there 🙂 What a beautiful, selfless human being he is. So glad for you and your Oliver that everything turned out okay.

Laura
Laura
8 years ago

Well you obviously have a guardian angel named Happy out there 🙂 What a beautiful, selfless human being he is. So glad for you and your Oliver that everything turned out okay.

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