Sunday, April 15, 2012

An airedale puppy saved Pamela's life, continued...

Photo of Sternly provided by Pamela Bitterman

Click on the below article link to obtain background information to this blog post:

Examiner article

Pamela Bitterman explained where her dog’s name was derived, “When I was about 13 years old, my sister’s boyfriend presented her with a mutt from a litter he’d rescued from the local swimming hole where he was working as alifeguard. My softhearted father announced we could keep him only if he was taught to behave. So my mom promptly went out and purchased a do-it-yourself book on Training Your Pet.

Standing austerely before his brood of rapt offspring and one decidedly unruly pup, my father read aloud from page one of the text, “When the dog misbehaves, say NO, sternly!” My dad jokingly commanded “NO Sternly!” and the dog responded by leaping all over him. Thus Sternly he was, and oh how we loved him. When he later died of distemper, a disease he had contracted prior to our getting him, we were all devastated.

Several years later, while working in New England, I bought my own first dog – an Airedale puppy. I named him Sternly. I never bought a book on discipline or took him to obedience school. As we were both prodigal children of the then Infamous “60’s”, I actually identified with and celebrated his free spirit and his boundless enthusiasm. He and I were destined to take on the world together.”

Not only did Sternly save Pam’s life once as described in the article but he saved her twice.

She explained, “A couple years later, back in the Midwest and living alone with my dog in my grandparents old cottage on Lake Erie, I had my second run in with near-death, imminent disaster, once again averted by my trusty Airedale.

The Army Corps of Engineers had recently constructed eight-foot high dikes – walls of fence and rock atop the seawalls - to act as an added barrier against the rising lake levels. I was walking my dog on that dike and feeling the familiar brace of a good old Nor’easter beginning to blow. I was transfixed on the lake’s angry rabid ocean-like face while the frigid temperatures plummeted, when suddenly I skidded on an icy patch of cement, lost my footing, and tumbled off the wall. Hitting the shallows several feet below, I both felt and heard my ankle snap upon impact with the submerged rocks. At that point I could neither reach nor even see the top of the dike, or any semblance of the safe civilization that lay on the other side of it. The storm was building fast. I listened to Sternly bark once and then heard nothing. Bundled in layers of bulky winter clothes and wearing my heavy hiking boots, I was wet, cold, in pain, exhausted from trying to keep my head above the rising tide, and alone.

I don’t know how much time passed, but I vaguely remember hearing barking and muted voices somewhere off in the distance. Sometime later, an extension ladder was lowered over the dike wall and two big men climbed down to fish me out of the tide, carry me up and out, and ferry me to the hospital. My dog was by my side, slobbering, nudging, wagging, and fully reveling in his “man’s (girl’s!) best friend” role. My rescuers, as they were loading me into their car, didn’t object to a wet and wild Sternly bounding in right beside me. Nodding their heads soberly, they whispered, “Let him in. That crazy dog just saved your life!”

After Sternly passed years later, Pamela continued to include animals in her love.

She shared, “I would go on to have more pets in my lifetime, most notably the terrific Springer Spaniel that would be my children’s family dog.”

But, as the article communicates, Sternly was special to Pam and unlike any other animal!

Do you have a special bond with a four-legged friend? If so, you can appreciate the wonders and blessings these beautiful animals gift. Leave a comment about the special fury babies in your life.

Click here to visit Pamela's website, Pamela

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