Acclaimed triathlon coach Siri Lindley, well known for her love of dogs who accompany her on training days, dove across a partly frozen pond to pull spouse Rebekah Keat’s dog Byron out of freezing water Sunday.
Lindley and Keat were walking their dogs Byron, Calvin and Sparky midday Sunday when they stopped to enjoy the scenery near their home a half mile from the Boulder Reservoir. They were walking in an open area across the road from their house, just a short way from a neighbor’s back yard lake. “The lake, a massive pond really, was almost completely frozen over,” said Lindley. By noon, the air temperature had risen from the low-30s to mid-40s Fahrenheit.
Lindley and Keat noticed that a flock of maybe a hundred geese were settled in the open area nearby. Keat told Lindley “I’m just going to let Byron run. He’s pretty savvy and never chases after cars. Byron feels like a bit of a hero when he chases the geese. He never hurts them but he loves the chase.”
A few moments later, the geese took flight and Lindley noticed two horses in a nearby paddock were staring intently at the lake. “They were actually looking up with the necks really stretched out, really looking at the lake,” said Lindley, who told Keat, “Byron’s in the lake.”
Keat said, “No! He is not that stupid. It’s too cold!”
Lindley said, “I know he is in there!”
Keat said, “How do you know?”
“The way the horses are staring. They made it obvious to me that Byron had fallen in”
Keat and Lindley ran to the tiny lake. “I ran there thinking, ‘Oh, maybe he has gone in and can't get out,” recalled Keat. “By then he would have been in the water at least two minutes. I knew a creature that small couldn’t last long in freezing water. I saw he was right in a hole in the ice in open water and trying to climb out. He was crying and his paws just kept slipping on the ice. I was thinking, ‘Should I walk out or crawl?’”
Before Keat could formulate a plan, Lindley was off and running. “Siri didn’t hesitate,” recalled Keat. “She said, ‘Grab the leash! I’m going in!’ And she flew like Superwoman!”
Lindley said later: “It was just instinct.”
Keat was struck by Lindley’s rush. “I don't know what made her think to slide because if she had walked she would have gone straight through the ice,” said Keat. “She slid across the ice on her hands and stomach and ended right next to Byron, 10 yards from shore.”
Lindley recalled, “When I grabbed Byron, I threw him over my shoulder on the ice towards Bek. Then he was able to cross the thicker ice and reach the edge of the pond.” With that motion, Lindley put herself at risk. “The minute I grabbed hold of him, that extra 10 pounds was enough to crack the ice and I fell headfirst into the water.”
Keat said she was confident that Lindley would come out of her dunking OK. But there was a sliver of fear nonetheless. “I was pretty scared because I have seen things on TV news where people tried to rescue dogs in frozen water and died,” said Keat. “I knew at worst I could get Siri out somehow. But it depended on how long she had been in the water. She has been in the water just a few seconds when she just launched herself out and hauled herself up on the ice. I really don’t know how she did it.”
Both Lindley and Byron seemed to be in a state of shock as they left. A warm bath and hugs brought both of them back to normal. That night Byron slept in his masters’ bed. One element of canine PTSD: Byron refused to drink water out of his shiny silver bowl. “He was crying and scratched and knocked the bowl over so he could lick the water off the ground,” said Lindley. “I think he is scared he was going to fall in there.”
Coincidentally, Lindley’s long-time favorite dog Whoopi was rescued from a fall into an icy pond in Niwot a decade ago. That time, Lindley was away on a trip and it was house-sitter Chuckie Velupek who came to the rescue.