I am Not V I Warshawski

People often ask me how much like V I Warshawki I am, and I have to say, not at all.  This morning I went out early to Lake Michigan with my dog, Callie.  She went in after a ball that was too big for her to pick up; she kept batting it with her nose and rapidly got rather far from shore.  I called but she wouldn’t abandon the ball.  I took off my clothes and went in after but she was further than my swim ability in such cold water (about 60 F) and I went back to shore hoping she might follow.  At 400 yards out she was too small for me to see her other than as a little blob on the water.  I was filled with despair but went back in up to my neck and stood calling “come” over and over and by some miracle she finally turned and swam to shore.

I was quite useless in the situation.  I’m sure V I would have picked up a lifeguard rowboat and rowed out to rescue  Mitch & Peppy, but me–I was physically feeble and emotionally distraught.  The only good thing is–I still have my dog.

And she, whole-hearted retriever that she is, wanted to turn around and go back to find the ball.

  • I’m so glad that Callie is OK!

  • Oh Sara, how worrying for you! I’m so relieved Callie ‘saw sense’ in the end, and that you are both all right. Hope you didn’t catch cold in there.

  • Penthorn100

    Wow Sara! That sounds a pretty good reaction from you. You must have been very cold. So glad that your dog came back to you. 

  • Thanks.  Callie is fine, just a little weary.  Me, I’m a wreck.  But chocolate seems to be helping

  • the Bag Lady

    How terrifying for you! I know that every time my dog takes off after a coyote, my heart is in my throat, but I have learned that calling her does absolutely no good at all – if she knows I’m there, she thinks I’m her back-up and it makes her all the more ferocious! Little does she know, there’s no way I can run to her aid.

    Glad to know that Callie came back, and I hope you suffer no ill effects from your swim in such cold water.

  • P.M. Newton

    You went into 60 F water? You *are* very VI. Gald all are well. Keep the chocolate treatment going.

  • Thank you all.  Bag Lady, I had to laugh about your role as the back-up–mine is to be in the foreground of the pack.  Callie alerts me if there’s danger on the perimeter and then stands a good ten feet behind me waiting for me to deal with it

  • Aurea-Viicenta

    A distressing situation, Sara. Fortunately, all ends well. Greetings.

  • Anonymous

    Hang on a moment while I check how cold that is. (so confusing in American books, I’m never impressed by temperatures or distances, they’re all meaningless to me. Go metric, people! 😉 )

    Ouch – not warm at all! Glad your dog came to her senses and back. Tenacious creature! :O

  • Anonymous

    Goldens tend to be like that. I have to be especially careful at night. Try to check to see if there’s something mine would go after before I let her out, as she won’t give up the chase easily. 

  • Janet Rudolph

    Oh, Sarah, just read this. I know how anxious you must have been. So glad she’s back. I worry so much about Topper in the ocean–we have huge undertows, and he’s a golden with the same ball instincts..

  • genny from jersey

    So happy to hear that both you and Callie survived the experience.   Hope you and Callie don’t have any ill affects from the cold water. 

  • JoAnn Welsh

    I would have been a basket case…I’m glad she’s OK.

  • Sara Paretsky

    Thanks JoAnn.  Basket case pretty much described where I was all that day.  I’d gone to the beach early because I had a long day scheduled and as you can imagine, all my urgent appointments just didn’t take place 

  • Anonymous

    Found “Women on the Case,” a short story collection that came out in the mid-90’s, on my library’s e-book list. The introduction was thought provoking about female writers’ voices. Enjoyed your story called “Publicity Stunts” along with others by women mystery writers. 

    This discovery put me on a search for more, and I found another book that you edited, “Sisters on the Case, Twenty Years of Sisters in Crime” that came out in 2007. As you can guess, I’m getting “antsy” for your new book, so maybe these stories will help hold me over till then.

  • Jill

    We were there that morning!  Pretty scary, even for bystanders.  Just coming around to the beach from our run, we saw you in the water. My first thought was Hurrah, the lake must finally be warm enough to take a dip because there was a woman swimming with her dog.  We took off our shoes and stepped in but the water was just too cold, even after three miles of running. Yet there you were, swimming, and alternately coming into the beach (sans swimsuit).  Adding 2 and 2 we realized that your dog was heading farther and farther out after that bouncy red ball, which was being blown by the offshore wind, and you were actually trying to swim to her, to call her back.   When it seemed dire, your dog was a blip on the horizon, she turned around.

    It wasn’t until this morning that we figured out who you were. We saw you again on our way back from a run/dip, you asked us how the water was. David wondered Was that Sara Paretsky? (I’m enjoying Hardball right now, so your photo is on my nightstand 😉 )

  • Dear Jill
      I think you and David helped stabilize me that morning so I’m glad you wrote so I can thank you.  I’m not sure I would have gone to stand in the water calling her if you hadn’t helped me get a little sense back in my head.

  • Jill

    The water was numbing that morning: You must have quite a bit of V.I. in you to be able to go in up to your neck like you did, and not give up. 

    By the way, Callie is one pretty dog! 


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