Dogs rescue owner from frightening fall in river

Okotoks: Roles reversed on lady who tries to save her pets

By: John Barlow

  |  Posted: Thursday, Jan 09, 2014 10:53 am

Liz Denton kisses her dog Flick while surrounded by her other dogs at her Okotoks home on <br />Sunday afternoon. Denton was rescued by her dogs after she fell in the freezing Sheep River before Christmas.
Liz Denton kisses her dog Flick while surrounded by her other dogs at her Okotoks home on
Sunday afternoon. Denton was rescued by her dogs after she fell in the freezing Sheep River before Christmas.
Jordan Verlage/OWW

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An Okotoks woman is thanking her pets for saving her life after venturing onto the Sheep River to rescue two of her dogs that fell through the ice.

The rescuer quickly became the rescued when Liz Denton’s other two dogs helped her out of freezing, rushing waters near Riverside Park in Okotoks on a cold Saturday afternoon just before Christmas.

“They saved my life,” said Denton of her dogs. “I’m lucky I am still here. Without those dogs dragging me out of the water I don’t know what would have happened.”

Denton had taken her four dogs for an afternoon walk along the Sheep River east of 32nd Street when she noticed two of the dogs had wandered out onto the river and fell through the ice.

The 66-year-old dog trainer made her way to what she thought was the edge of the river to try and lasso the dogs struggling to get back onto the ice.

However, she fell through. Unable to touch the bottom or pull herself back onto the ice, Denton started to panic — she did not know how to swim.

“I was struggling to get out,” she said. “I looked to see if anyone could see me from the bridge, but I was out of sight. I started to panic because the water was pulling me under the ice and I knew if I went under the ice I was done for.”

Luckily, Denton’s son-in-law Parris Douglas, now a Calgary policeman, was in the Royal Marines for 19 years and often discussed survival skills with his family. Those lessons quickly set in and Denton knew she had to think quickly.

“I couldn’t panic,” she said. “I had to stop and gather myself and not do anything stupid.”

She regained her composure and called to her dogs Kairo, a muscular Lurcher breed, and Coda, a 10-month old Husky mix who, ironically, is a rescue dog from Misty Creek Rescue in Calgary.

She managed to grab their collars and commanded them to go back. The two dogs were able to drag her up out of the ice.

She then turned her attention to her other two dogs who, after almost 10 minutes in the water, were starting to go under.

Denton crawled across the ice and managed to lasso the dogs and get them back onto the ice and safely on shore.

“I was scared,” she said. “I honestly thought what was I going to do?”

Denton said she realizes she made some potentially costly mistakes. First, she did not realize where the banks of the river were and she should have called the fire department or RCMP to report the problem rather than venturing onto the river.

It was the least she could do for her rescue dogs who came to her rescue.


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