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Dog pulled from frozen Pinecrest Lake

Rescuers use extension cords and kayaks to save chocolate lab

The Nashlund family of Steveston hoped for a few days of adventure staying at a rental cabin on Pinecrest Lake.

But they got a little more excitement than they expected when the family dog fell through the ice on the lake and almost drowned on Saturday, March 23 while they were shopping in Whistler.

Zac, their chocolate lab of five and a half years, wandered out onto the partially frozen surface of Pinecrest Lake and fell through into the frigid water.

As soon as Pinecrest resident Christine Suter spotted the dog struggling in the water, she and husband Paul rushed right into action to save the dog.

"You could see that he was in a hole and he was trying to get out and he was looking a little bit frantic," Suter said of Zac when she noticed him in the lake.

Both Suters grabbed their kayaks.

"(Paul) ran down our neighbour's dock, put the kayak on top of the ice and then kind of had to skootch himself out there with the ends of the paddles," said Suter of her husband's response. "He kind of looked like a sledge hockey guy scooting along the ice."

She said it was quite an effort just to get to the dog.

"He got the dog by the scruff of the neck but he couldn't do anything else," explained Suter.

As people started to gather around and offer help, she said she went out onto the ice to help her husband get the dog out of the icy water in her kayak.

"(Paul) pulled the dog up on to himself in the kayak," said Suter. "Right before he did that the dog was really starting to lose it — it must have been in there for at least 20 minutes by this time. You could see that (Zac) was starting to slow down and the water was freezing."

With the dog out of the water shore-rescuers focused on tossing out electrical cords to the kayakers to try and pull them in. The first cord was bound around the dog, which was then pulled across the ice to safety. Suter said Zac did break through the ice, but the shore-rescuers just kept pulling until the Zac was on land.

Then the cord was thrown back out to the Suters so they could be pulled back across the icy surface.

"Their skill and their efficiency at the rescue was professional," said Nashlund. "Had it been us rescuing our own dog we would have probably had four people in the water and it would have been so disastrous.

"It would have been an even bigger deal than just getting the dog out.

"We left (to go shopping) and everything was fine. We returned and Zac was in front of the fireplace. The whole thing happened without us knowing about it."

The Nashlund family is very grateful for the effective efforts of the Suters. Zac was left with only minor injuries to his paws but Nashlund said a veterinarian checked the dog over and indicated Zac didn't suffer any significant injuries in the misadventure.

"He is fine – fully recovered," said Nashlund in a relieved voice.

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