Dixie’s big day

Published 9:09 pm Tuesday, April 5, 2016

We may never know why Dixie ran into the Nansemond River on Sunday afternoon. Based on her history, we can probably guess why the 13-year-old black Labrador retriever escaped from the backyard of her Holiday Point home: She’s, by owner Britney Emons’ own admission, a “spoiled rotten” pooch that hates to be left alone in the yard. When she’s left there for, what are by her standards, too long, she finds a way under the fence and thence to freedom.

But Dixie has an apparently short-lived desire for the big, wide world, and she normally lets herself back into the yard and waits at the front door for the comforts and luxuries of home.

For some reason, Sunday was different. Perhaps she felt the call of the retriever’s blood in her veins. Perhaps she thought she saw a slab of bacon floating by on the river’s tide. Perhaps some foul feline lured her into the water. For some reason, this unusual Labrador retriever with a fear of the water soon found herself in over her head.

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Whatever coaxed Dixie into the water, her decision would set into motion a series of events that has made news across the country. Call it the Great Dixie Rescue of 2016. Or, perhaps, The Dog-Fishing Episode. Maybe even The Day They Drove Ol’ Dixie Downtown.

Call it what you will, but Dixie’s rescue was a big deal for the Emons family, which had taken her in after Britney Emons’ father died three years ago and her mother moved from her Western Branch home into an apartment. “We want people to know she has owners who love her,” Emons told a Suffolk News-Herald reporter this week.

Thanks to a concerted effort by Bennett’s Creek Landing residents, who dialed 911 after spotting Dixie in the water; by Suffolk first responders, who launched a boat and tried to coax her aboard; by a passing kayaker, who corralled the wayward animal; and by animal control officers, who waded into the river to harness and rescue her — thanks to them all, Dixie was finally returned safely home on Sunday night after a brief stint in doggie jail.

She was a bit bedraggled. She was unhappy with her riverine experience. And she’ll likely never trust that cat again. But Dixie was glad to come back home — inside, where it’s warm and where all the love is.

Who wouldn’t love a story with such a happy ending?