Part of the fun of living in northeast Georgia is being able to jump in the car with the dogs and drive to the mountains in a short amount of time. Last Sunday, I had a brilliant idea that turned out to be not so brilliant. I decided to go to Lake Winfield-Scott—a beautiful little lake south of Blairsville, but not too far from Neel’s Gap. I thought that I could drop by the lake, let Chip play in the water and then visit Blood Mountain, which is located on the Appalachian Trail.

But the trip started off badly when I took a wrong turn and headed farther west than I wanted to go. It took twice as long to get to  the lake. So the dogs were wild and everyone wanted to get OUT of the car. I also realized that it was now run by the Federal Government. This means there was a five dollar fee for  “day use.” I looked at Chipley’s pleading eyes and thought, “I’ve come this far; I can’t turn back.” So, I slipped the money in the brown envelope, slid it into the metal slot, and entered the park hoping there would be hiking trails for the dogs. There was a little path but nothing more and certainly nothing that would cause Cocoa to give this walk anything more than a “one paw.”

The lake really is beautiful. It’s flat out charming and something worth seeing under the canopy of fall. On the way to the dock area, Chippy spotted a little ramp going down into the water. He immediately starting crying like he does when he wants something very badly. I was talking with friends, and we just thought it would be fine to let him paddle around in the water for a few minutes. I had packed extra towels and the sun was bright and warm so I knew he would dry quickly.

As we approached the water, he made a lunging move that was a little shocking. I remember saying, “Don’t let him go out very far.” But it was too late. All I can say is that I can now testify to how a child can drown in six inches of water.

I’ll never know why he decided to put his face underwater. It’s something that is known only to him, but within a second he was limp and was drowning! There was no time for fear, panic, or anything else. We quickly pulled him out of the lake and placed him on his side. After another second, he coughed and out came lake water. He looked up at everyone with a very stunned look as if to say, “What just happened?”

This is about Chip’s third “near death” experience. I’m beginning to wonder if he sees bright lights and Jesus every time he does something like this. Chipley is too much “boy dog” for his own good. He’s more like a half-pint of Labrador Retriever than a small Cocker Spaniel. When it comes to Chip, we now have a check list of things to avoid. Swimming is at the top of the list, along with being left alone to wander through dark basements, unattended light cords, bugs, buttons, strings, grass hoppers, spiders, rabbits, and anything that resembles a plastic cap! Life is just too risky when it comes to Chipley.


After everyone recovered, we sat down on the dock and basked in the sunlight and talked about how the trees are already shifting in color. Fall is on the way. It was a good distraction from what had just taken place.