Digest>Archives> Jan/Feb 2010

Dog Swims Dangerous Waters to Leave New Lighthouse Home

By Judith Lavole


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Trial Island Lighthouse, near Victoria, British ...
Photo by: Eric Manchester

The wide open spaces of British Columbia’s Trial Island might be paradise for most dogs, but one canine apparently found life at a lighthouse a little too quiet for his taste.

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Malcolm, a 10-year old lab/shepard, with Carol ...
Photo by: Bruce Stotesbury

This past November, the 10-year-old Labrador-shepherd cross, called Malcolm, dog-paddled his way back to Victoria through the dangerous and uncertain waters of Enterprise Channel, ending up shivering, but unapologetic, on Beach Drive.

Just days earlier, Malcolm had moved in with assistant lighthouse keeper Mike Robinson, who was fostering him for Victoria Adoptables Dog Rescue.

“I couldn’t believe it,” said Nancy Besharah, who found a cold, disoriented Malcolm while jogging along Beach Drive and took him to a nearby house, where she persuaded the homeowner to lend her some towels.

Besharah checked Malcolm’s tag and phoned Carol Broad of Victoria Adoptables who was flabbergasted when she arrived and saw Malcolm. “You could have knocked me down with a feather,” she said.

Five days earlier, Malcolm had happily climbed into a Zodiac with Robinson and was, as far as Broad knew, in something close to doggy heaven on 25 hectares of unfenced land on Trial Island.

“Maybe he got bored. There are only two people on the island and a 16-year-old dog, so maybe the pace was too slow,” said Broad, who is now desperately looking for a home for Malcolm where he won’t be tempted to go for marathon swims.

For his part, Robinson believes Malcolm was hoping to rummage through a few Beach Drive garbage cans and then swim home.

Malcolm apparently lived a gypsy-like existence with his previous owner and may have swum from Thetis to Kuper Island near Chemainus, but during the previous five days, he had only waded in the ocean, Robinson said. “He seemed to adjust really well, but sometimes he had a faraway look in his eye when he lay on the porch and I wondered what was on his mind,” said Robinson, who admits his feelings are “kind of hurt. As far as personality goes, you couldn’t find a nicer dog.”

Malcolm is either smart or lucky, as he picked a slack tide for his swim and that probably saved his life, Robinson said. “Enterprise Channel is not for the faint of heart,” he said. “It’s only 400 metres from Victoria, but there are riptides and whirlpools when it’s bad. It goes through there at three or four knots. If he hadn’t been wise enough to choose a slack tide, I’m sure he wouldn’t be alive.”

Robinson, who was in the Zodiac searching for Malcolm when he received the call saying he was on Beach Drive, believes Malcolm first swam to a nearby small island and then tackled the big crossing.

Malcolm is none the worse for wear for his marathon, said Broad, who took the arthritic dog to the vet only to be told he was fine. “He’s not slowed down at all. It’s almost like the salt water did him good.”

Before going to Trial Island, Malcolm was in foster care for a year, but his foster mother returned to school and could not continue to care for him. It’s possible he was trying to get back to her, Broad said.

Malcolm will be returned temporarily to Victoria Adoptables, but he craves human attention and needs a home where someone will be with him all day, Broad said.

Robinson is also looking for his next foster dog -- one that that doesn’t swim so well.

Victoria Adoptables can be reached at their website: Victoriaadoptables.com

Editor’s Note: This copyright story reprinted by permission of the Victoria Times Colonist newspaper in Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

This story appeared in the Jan/Feb 2010 edition of Lighthouse Digest Magazine. The print edition contains more stories than our internet edition, and each story generally contains more photographs - often many more - in the print edition. For subscription information about the print edition, click here.

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