NORWAY — Two men pushed a rowboat more than 500 feet across Lake Pennesseewassee before breaking through the icy surface to rescue a dog from freezing waters Thursday afternoon.
“If you could have seen that dog's face: You can't stop,” said Nick White, who along with Brent Gammon, rescued the submerged dog in an area behind White's Marina on Lake Road. The Norway men work at the marina.
The dog, believed to be a Rottweiler mix, was spotted walking on the ice shortly before 2 p.m. when suddenly, he broke through, White said.
“His paws were on the edge of the ice," White said. "He was trying to get himself up on the edge.”
He and Gammon grabbed an aluminum rowboat and pushed it across the lake before the ice began to break up about 40 to 50 feet from the dog. Using their paddles, the pair stuck them in the ice and pulled the boat toward the dog, in water estimated to be 4 to 8 feet deep and about 32 degrees.
“That's when I started to worry that we wouldn't make it," White said. "Ten more minutes and he would have been in trouble.”
“Brent grabbed a-hold of him,” White said. The rescue became a tricky balancing act when he had to keep the boat upright using his paddle while Gammon pulled the dog over and into the boat, White said.
“He was pretty motionless. There was no noise," White said. "He was just staring at us and he was shivering. He probably wouldn't have lasted much longer.”
White, who said he was sweating from the effort and not at all cold, put his jacket over the dog's back to keep it warm as it stood in the bow of the boat for the ride back to shore where firefighters and police were waiting.
Both men were exhausted, but otherwise fine.
“That was worse than a marathon,” Gammon said.
Witnesses say the dog may have walked out on the ice from a cove where summer camps and one year-round home are located.
Mike White, owner of White's Marina, said he was looking out at the lake shortly after 2 p.m. when he spotted the dog walking across the ice.
His wife, Randa White, walked the dog from the boat into the warm building where she took care of him until animal control officer Robert Larrabee arrived.
The dog was wearing only a collar and no identification. As of Wednesday night, its owner had not been found.
“We've seen moose (on the icy lake) before," Nick White said. "I wouldn't bother to help a moose. That would kill me."