New Year’s Eve Dog Rescue on the Kennebec Salt Marsh in Bath, Maine

This story was written and submitted to Downeast Dog News on January 1, 2023 by Coreysha Stone of Alna, Maine.

There are times when a group of complete strangers just happen to be at the right place at the right time. This was the case in the early evening of December 31st on the water's edge of the South End Dog Park in Bath. As the sun was setting and I was enjoying the dog park with my two dogs, my twelve-year-old son, and his friend, we met a fun beagle/hound. He had long legs which he used to jump like a kangaroo into the air. We laughed while we watched him bound across the field playing with our youngest and more energetic dog and noted what a fun and spunky dog he seemed to be. 

It was around 4:30pm when the dog ventured down to the salt marsh on the edge of the icy Kennebec River in the shadows of Bath Iron Works. My son and his friend observed that the dog had gotten himself into a bit of a predicament and seemed stuck. We later learned that he, in his puppy excitement, had bounded through the salt marsh and jumped right into a 15-foot wide (and approx. 5 feet deep) channel of icy water. His owner, saw this unfortunate event and watched as his dog in shock scrambled up the opposite side of this inlet. The sun had set and the pup’s owner was standing on the edge of the water with his flashlight coaxing him to return to him. Not realizing what was happening down on the water’s edge, I gathered up my crew of kids and dogs and proceeded to head home. As we drove away my son, Ellis, stated, “Oh no, they are still in the salt marsh”. From the road we could see the man’s silhouette with his flashlight deep in the marsh and we realized that the dog was in a serious situation. We decided to drive to the far end of the salt marsh and park the car so we could approach him from the south side of the marsh. Luckily, my son’s friend had a flashlight and we set off down the embankment on foot. We yelled back and forth with the dog’s owner to try and make a plan and after many attempts to cross the salt marsh and push through brambles and reeds, we realized this was not going to work. We called the 911 dispatcher for support and continued to problem solve to rescue this stranded pup who was howling and whimpering intermittently as he remained on the edge of the channel hyper focused on the humans calling his name.

We returned to the dog park to continue our efforts and enlisted the help of two more dog walkers, both residents of Bath. Shortly thereafter three police officers and a firefighter arrived and we all began gathering logs and branches to try and create a type of bridge or breakwater for the dog to cross. This was unsuccessful and we talked next of getting large planks. Someone suggested bringing down a canoe and this suggestion could not have come at a better time because dusk had turned to complete darkness and the tide was now quickly rising.

They returned with two other people, carrying a canoe overhead through the darkness. Once the canoe arrived everything smoothly fell into place. As the canoe was pushed across the channel and the figure in the front of the canoe disembarked, the pup was ready to do his part. The dog was fully compliant to work with this stranger who stood next to him, bent down and scooped him up and then lowered him into the canoe handing him off to another stranger. The canoe was pushed back to safety where officers and the owner helped stabilize and pull the canoe to shore. What a fantastic feeling, we cheered in the darkness, and I could not help shouting “Happy New Year!”
Thank you to everyone that came together to give this pup and his owner a wonderful start to the new year.

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