Inner Tubing on the Mill River

July 19, 2012Riverbend Tales
Author: David S. Thomson DVM

The dog days of summer are here. Tiny Tim (the Pug) stands chest deep in the wading pool; Jackson (the Golden Retriever) lies panting under the bushes. Too hot to even bother chasing our gimpy grey cat. I snooze under the umbrella on the back deck, trying to catch up on work, but I’m too hot. So what to do? Give in, chuck the work, gather up the dogs and go inner tubing!

Tiny Tim grew up with two Labs and assumes he is a water dog. Initially he was not a good swimmer; he was, however, fearless and determined. He followed the Labs in over his head, then thrashed until his toes touched again, his body vertical, his head barely above water. We realized Tiny was more adventurous than wise or talented, so we bought him a life jacket. He took to it with zeal and soon was cruising like a duck. So now when it is sweltering hot, I grab an inner tube, a life jacket for Tiny, two leashes and the requisite plastic bags, and head off to the Mill River.

The section we tube is only about ½ mile long, running from behind the high school to the bottom of our street. We hike from the house down to the stream. I put Tiny’s life jacket on him, call for Jackson (who gently slides into the current), hop on the tube, and off we go. The current is gentle, the ripples not too big, and the rocks, if the water is high enough, not too frequent.

Jackson paddles circles around the tube, retrieving tennis balls from the eddies. Tiny perches on the tube or my lap at the start but soon gets over-excited, leans over the edge and inevitably jumps or tumbles in. He paddles to the shore (looking for handouts I suspect), then paddles back and swims after Jackson.

We drift through the riffles at the curve in the stream, bounce over the old dam, and cruise down to the rope swing. At the swing there may be more handouts and people to shake off on and towels to trample with sand and mud. I glide on pretending not to notice. We reach the foot of our street, climb out, the dogs shake off, and we walk home.

Not a big adventure but drifting down the river with only splashes of sunlight sifting through the trees and dogs clambering up on the tube then jumping off . . . it doesn’t get much better than this!

“I asked my mom to write and tell you how much I enjoyed meeting you today. Thanks for being so nice to me. I can’t wait to see you again. Purr, purr, purr!”

"Lucy", Holyoke

“Okay, alright, we admit it — we all like coming to Riverbend, not just the pets.”

Chris and Tammy, Leverett

“Magic could hardly wait to burst through the door to see you…a true testament to the kindness and care she got at Riverbend. Thank you for being such an amazing bunch…to Magic and to me.”

Bobby D, Northampton

“I’ve been to four different vets in the area looking for the one place that cares about my pup as much as I do. I found that place at Riverbend! I have been blown away by their level of professionalism, kindness, empathy and support. I will be forever thankful!”

Michael, Northampton

“I want to thank all of you for helping me thru this most difficult time. Peanut was so special and precious. Thanks again for your support and caring.”

Lorraine, Westhampton