Corgis and Comets

| June 30, 2021 | 0 Comments
Paluxy Whirlpool

Ive seen a lot of things in my life, some strange things, some truly phenomenal, like the time my Grandmother and I saw the Comet Ikeya-Seki broken in pieces, passing over the South Padre Island dead-of-night-space-sky. What I saw last week at the Paluxy River isn’t in the same category, but it’s a lot more fresh in my memory than the close pass of that comet in 1965, and that can make a difference in ranking these kinds of things. The only reason I am even attempting to tell this story is because, well, it’s a hard one to tell.

After a long float, over a short distance really, Danny and I were situating our gear, unloading the raft and basically talking about how the Paluxy River had no fish, none. We were moving slow because we were off the water at the low bridge takeout early enough to scurry back to our homes and miss relentless DFW traffic, a true blessing. I marveled at how much water we could see and cover in his Fly Craft compared to a walking-wading.

The takeout was a low water crossing bridge that has been upgraded, yes infrastructure can get upgraded in the middle of almost nowhere – where it’s needed the most. The bridge, a flat stretch of concrete, runs across the Paluxy at about five feet above the riverbed, where once was probably a waterfall in a sloping pour of concrete, probably three lanes wide at the bottom and two lanes wide at the top. Along the top are spaced fifteen inch corrugated drain pipes that encourage the river to drain through, instead of going over the expensive infrastructure rendering it a high low water crossing again.

Because these pipes are about a foot below the road surface, and the water’s running, whirlpools form on the upside and the water comes out the downside with volume. The whirlpool’s sucking sounds add to the volume of the water free-flowing down the concrete bank on the downside, and that makes for a bundle of unique sound experiences.

As Danny and I are starting to think about loading, one of those old forgettable GM years of gold Cadillacs, worth more at the scrapyard, crawls down from the far side of the bride, past us and back up the incline. I fully prepared for a meth-influenced exchange, but the windows stayed up, and neither of us was in the mood for that kind of banter. A minute later the same Caddy comes back down the incline behind us, and I flip the switch on my radar. Up they go the other side, turn the ship around and park on the incline. Another car comes in behind them and parks friendly close.

I get it, just another country drug deal probably. Nothing to worry about, just move along. The doors stay closed awhile, but while talking about the Paluxy day, we are looking at these two cars across the bridge from us … aware, simply aware. Another minute passes, and the driver side door opens, and out steps one of those sawed-off big dogs, a Welsh Corgi. Now this dog knows where he is and what he’s doing. He’s headed straight for the water to cool off, on the upside of the road. Still no one has gotten out of the Caddy to follow, and I almost begin to think this is this dog’s spa day. In he walks, where the crotch of the road and river meet, head up and rowing his sawed-offs as hard as they will go.

Until that moment, I had considered a Corgi just as the Wesminster description considered them: “Purpose-bred dogs can have jobs that require decision-making, problem-solving, concentration, or other qualities, and without the brain exercise they need…” in my words; these are smart sawed-off working dogs. I’ve seen them work around horses and they know how to work. And now, I see they also know how to swim, although this one is about to make a bad decision.

I guess this dog really loves to swim, because he’s swimming parallel to the road … and heading straight for the first whirlpool. No one moves from the cars, no doors open. By the time I holler, “Danny that dog’s going to get sucked under!” all that remains is a snout up, and I start running. This first whirlpool is on the far side, and it gives me time to think while I run … he’s either trapped against the drain right there, and I’ll grab him by the scruff, or he’s in the pipe and the odds can’t be good. I look down and he’s gone, one obstruction, one stick in that pipe and that dog is buzzard meat. Naturally, I stand stunned for a minute (a few seconds actually), on the concrete above the pipe … somewhere in there is a dog – stuck, or rolling and tumbling. My reflex takes me to the chute side just in case he makes it out. A second passes, maybe two, and the pressure must’ve been building in that pipe because out flies a Welsh Corgi encased in a huge tube of water, six feet past where the water normally runs down the side of the bridge bank – a fur bullet. Keep in mind; that adult Corgi went in a fifteen-inch-across corrugated pipe nose last, and shoots out nose first. Clearing the concrete by several feet, and judge’s scoring it a ten on the bellyflop, the sheer distance and speed of the drop sent the Corgi a foot below the surface. Mouth-to-mouth on a dog was my first thought, but up pops the Corgi, paddling furiously toward the shore and sneezing water out his nose. He shook off and went toward the bridge road.

The “caring” pet owners finally, with great leisure, get out of their cars to see what the hullabaloo is all about, and I can barely explain, “Your dog just went through the drain pipe!” I gave up trying to explain as the dog stood under us, like nothing ever happened. No damage, no foul. They pick him up and walk to the downside pool, he paddles in, they walk into the pool, and it’s just another day in paradise.

In fishing there’s all kinds of luck, but never have I seen a dog’s luck so blatantly on display – until that day. The Comet Ikeya-Seki? That was no luck at all. That was my stargazing Grandma making sure … that I would see and remember.

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Category: Adventure, Body-Mind-Soul, Life Observed, OFF TOPIC

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I write. I photograph. I fish, and I live.

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