A poignant rescue story

Published 9:50 pm Friday, September 22, 2017

We love a good rescue story, and the one that came out of Lone Star Lakes Park this week was one of the best we’ve seen locally in a while.

It all started when Checkers fell into the water from a pier on Cedar Lake.

Most of us know dogs that take to the water like — well, fish. However suited Checkers might have been for an afternoon swim, though, at 17 years old, deaf and nearly blind, Checkers was in a bad situation when he wound up in the lake.


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His owner, Windsor resident Debbie Francis, was unable to help as her disoriented and panicked dog began swimming not toward the safety of the pier but toward the middle of the lake.

The situation could surely have turned out very badly for Checkers and Francis. But a call to 911 brought emergency help from the Chuckatuck Volunteer Fire Department and the Suffolk Police Department, along with a group of bystanders, one of whom happened to have a kayak and — fortuitously — a doggie life jacket.

By this time, Checkers was far from any of the people who might have helped him on the other side of the lake, and the kayak would come in handy, as senior firefighter Chuck Piver grabbed a paddle, hopped into the small boat and made his way into the lake.

If the dog wouldn’t come to them, they’d send help to the dog.

Forty-five minutes after Checkers fell into the water, Piver was ready to lift the dog into the boat and take him back to his distraught and worried owner.

Photos from the day show a bedraggled pup curled up between the firefighter’s outstretched legs as the man paddles the kayak back to shore. One of them was clearly very tired.

This was surely not the most important scene to play itself out in Hampton Roads on Saturday. In fact, there may well have been a more fraught rescue call for Chuckatuck’s emergency workers that day. But we doubt there was one that had a more poignant conclusion.