Posted by: Shanie Matthews | December 11, 2009

My Dog the Lifeguard

The yelp was high pitched and anxious sounding. Then there were three more quick yips. Where was Bergen?

My ten year old canine son was crying out in a pained bark. It was a squealing noise that I had never heard. I couldn’t see him but I could see the white, fuzzy tops of the tall grass swaying with his agitated disturbance.

Bergen, my husband and I had moved from living amongst the hustle and bustle of town life to a sixty five acre vineyard that had open land as far as the eye could see, a fast moving river, and wild horses roaming the vast meadows. Bergen was enjoying the peace, quiet and tranquility of farm life. He had become a little younger, more spry and agile with the change. Sixty five acres does a doggy good.

We were out on our daily walk to the racing waterway, following the winding animal trails through the swaying grassland. Bergen sprinted ahead, playing and leaping over small bushes as we made our way down to the water’s shore.

I could hear him thrashing in the desert sagebrush. I quickened my pace. Concern gripped my heart. Was he stuck under a fallen tree limb in the murky water?

“Bergen! Come here, boy!”

I came through the tall barrier of vegetation separating the shore from the desert brush. There was Bergen. Down at the water’s edge, his claws gripped firmly in the slippery mud. His weight was shifted back and his teeth grasped something black and furry. A small pink nose and black head suddenly popped out of the water.

It was a baby goat.

I heard a little bleeeehhhhhp escape from the small, struggling animal. Bergen stayed with the scrambling goat. The kid didn’t know what to think. Its tiny, thrashing hoofs couldn’t purchase any grip on the slick, steep river embankment. Bergen’s tenacity paid off. His teeth found purchase in the scruff of the baby goat’s neck, slowing the little creature down. I took the moment to slip down the muddy hill and scoop the goat out of the river.

Bergen stood up on his hind legs to see if the goat was okay.

The baby trembled in my arms; cold from the river and frightened from the experience. It nuzzled its small head into my armpit. I felt it let out a large sigh.

“Wow, Bergen! Nice one. I am so proud of you. You just saved this little guys life.”

Bergen looked up at me, winked and smiled. Just another day for Bergen the Super Dog he says to me with a look and cock of his head.

The amazement that my boy had just saved a little goat’s life made my heart swell with pride. Normally Bergen was enchanted with the thrill of chasing goats. My dog was able to realize the importance of life is more than the difference between types of species.

“Let’s take your new baby brother up to the house and warm him up.”

Bergen raced forward. I hugged the goat tighter and started jogging to the house. What a great exchange to witness. I guess you just never know how a person, or a dog for that matter, will react in times of distress.

This story was recently published in the book, “Pets Across America, Volume 2


  1. […] of the importance of play time in our schedules. Thankfully for our 14-almost-15 year old dog, Bergen, he helped us bring it back into focus the vitality of giving our own “little kids” […]

  2. […] it a person that invokes change in society? Is it someone  — an animal even — who puts their own life on the line for someone else?  Or is a hero found in the […]

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