So we had this wonderful place to visit. Lots of things to explore for the kids, and lots of wonderful scents to follow if you happened to be a hound. We started taking Katie with us to give her a chance to explore and run in a much larger area than the back yard. The property had a man-made pond, or tank, which was kept full for the cattle. A low area was dredged out. The dirt and sand was piled up around the edge to help catch the rain water and funnel it into the tank. There was also a well nearby. A pipe had been set into the sand and water would could be pumped through pipes to the tank. This assured the cattle and other wildlife that there would be fresh water, good for drinking even during times of drought. We were close enough to the bay, that the river water was more salt than fresh.
To keep the tank alive and fresh, Bill and William had paid to have catfish fingerlings put into the tank. They kept the catfish alive by feeding them until vegetation could begin to grow.
The first day we brought Katie with us was a warm sunny day. It had been several months since the catfish project was started, and we drove out to the tank, hoping to see how the fish were doing. There had not been much action in the tank for a while, and the water was still. Wife, the boys and I stood at the top of the dirt embankment looking into the pond. I saw an occasional turtle’s head pop up (where did that come from?), and a layer of green algae extending about three feet into the water, but no other activity. There were also some birds on the pond, which took off at the sight of us. A sand crane was on the opposite shore, looking for food.
Katie saw a great place to run. She may have seen the turtle, too and wondered what that was. Katie took off, down the embankment, onto the little bit of beach there was, and started racing toward the center to the pond. Her tail was up, she was baying at full volume, and was obviously in full Hunting Mode! It was a beautiful site.
Until she hit the algae. Thinking it was solid ground, or grass, she continued to run until the ground gave out from under her. Katie sunk up to her neck in green water. Her baying turned to yelping as she tried to turn around and climb back up on the algae. Of course, the algae kept giving way. Fortunately, the water was not deep, and Katie managed to splash her way back onto what really was solid ground. She emerged back onto the bank wet, frustrated, and embarrassed. I’m sure I saw her blush!
We stayed on the property a little longer than planned that day, giving Katie plenty of time to dry off before we put her back in the truck for the trip home.
Over time, we found that the tank was supporting more life than expected. In addition to the turtles and the birds, we could see alligator gar, an ugly fish with its roots firmly in prehistoric times. There was also an alligator or two that eventually made their way into our pond. We never did catch any catfish in that pond, although we did catch a bass and a redfish. Looking at the mud along the bank, we could see signs of deer, coyotes, and wild cats. It was always fun to visit the pond and see what had come to visit before us.
The nice thing about dogs is, they forgive you for laughing at them, and they quickly forget their embarrassments. Katie didn’t sulk, after her unexpected swim. She shook off the water and was able to enjoy the rest of her day following the scents of strange critters that had never walked across our back yard. She enjoyed learning about a place far from home. She enjoyed the chance to walk and run with her family. And we enjoyed just being a family together, a dad, a mom, two boys, and a dog.