We have a 9 1/2 year old dog of uncertain heritage. Her mother looked mostly like a Pointer of some kind, but the 9 puppies in Nemi, our dog’s litter, looked more like Border Collies or Golden Retrievers.




So we usually say that Nemi is a mix of a Border Collie and a Golden Retriever, with a little bit of Pointer in her. This particular mix also explains her somewhat confused personality. “Am I a sheep dog or a hunting dog? Well, Both.” And she is. She hunt-herds. No, really. That is a thing. Or maybe she herd-hunts? Because the herding seems more prominent than the hunting.

She is quite particular about keeping her flock together. And her flock? Well, that’s us. If two or three of us decide to go running for example, and she is not on a leash, she will run between us, and make sure she has us both,  or all,  within sight at all times. This can be  pretty exhausting for her, since we never run at the same pace, and one or more of us will inevitably fall behind at some point. So while we have run a 5k, she has probably run a 15k…


Just making sure nobody falls in the water


Her herding instincts are most pronounced however, when we are in the water. If any of us are in  a boat, waterskiing, wakeboarding or just swimming – you can be certain that she is watching us very closely, and preferably is right next to us, so she can save us should we need saving.


On watch


If more than one of us are in the water at the same time, she will swim around us in circles, and bark, if we move in different directions. (And Nemi really very rarely barks at all otherwise.) Her idea of ‘saving’ her flock in the water basically consists of doggy paddling as close as she can, and unintentionally scratching the back or chest of the person that ‘needs’ rescuing…


Rescuing her flock


At home, she doesn’t seem to mind that we leave her alone for hours every day. She is relatively uninterested when we return. She will come to the door, just to let us know that she has registered that we are returning, but unless we go into full fawning – baby talking – belly scratching mode, she will just wander back to her bed. At our summer house though, it is an entirely different ball game.  She gets absolutely frantic if we leave her alone.




Once she THOUGHT we had left her behind when JB drove off to pick up some of the kids at the pier. She managed to get out through the gates and tried to catch up with the car. I was,  in fact,  at the cabin with her, and had no idea she had tried to follow JB. She had run probably about 3 kilometers, before JB on his return from picking the kids up, saw her coming running towards the car. He stopped, of course, and got out of the car, and he says she sounded like she was wailing and crying. It took a good fifteen minutes to calm her down. And since then, we can’t really leave her at the cabin alone. Not even for a quick trip to the grocery store…




For JB’s 50th birthday, I gave him a kayak. And this spring, we decided we would get a second one, because it really is more fun to go kayaking together. But this posed a problem. What to do with Nemi if we were both out kayaking? We are pretty much empty nesters now, and more often than not, the kids are not at the cabin with us anymore. Not only would we have to leave her behind, but we would be in the water. Double whammy.




So a couple of days in to our summer holiday, JB decided that we should try to teach her to sit in the kayak, so she could come with us. I was a little skeptical, since we hadn’t really thought this through ahead of time, and we hadn’t purchased a safety vest for her. (She swims really well, but still.)


9d2cc-p1030119 Nemi 2


Our first attempt and short trial run went surprisingly well, so the next day we took a longer trip halfway around the island. She was a trooper. She only panicked twice. Once when I stopped paddling to take a picture, and fell behind her and JB, and then again, when I was getting back into the kayak after a break, and lost my balance and fell in to the water.


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Keeping us safe


It was only knee deep, but she promptly jumped out of the kayak and came to my rescue. This video shows her panicking as my kayak slows down…





I wish I had a picture of her rescuing me, but here is one where she is ‘rescuing’ Benjamin. He is wisely wearing a wetsuit, to protect himself from her loving claws… 😀



Yup. She’s a keeper.