Retrieving the retrievers

Norway team rescues two dogs that fell through Lake Antoine ice

FROM LEFT, NORWAY Volunteer Fire Department Ice Rescue Team members Carl Oslund and Louie Bonetti hang on to the rescue boat as they and Rufus and Chance, two golden retrievers that broke through the ice Friday at Lake Antoine, are hauled to shore. (Chris Tomassucci/Daily News photo)

IRON MOUNTAIN — Two golden retrievers are home safe after having to be rescued by firefighters Friday when they went through the ice on Lake Antoine.

Two women walking their own dogs on leashes around the lake called 911 about noon Friday after seeing the two retrievers run onto the ice and break through near the kayak launch.

The dogs began struggling in water, with the smaller one trying to climb onto the larger to get back on the ice but only pushing the other dog underwater. After a few attempts, they both began to dog paddle, onlookers said.

People watching from shore tried to calm the dogs while waiting for the Norway Volunteer Fire Department Ice Rescue Team. One man offered to put on his waders and go get the dogs.

After donning insulated dry suits that also float, ice team members Carl Oslund and Louie Bonetti ventured out with a inflated boat, secured with a rope, that is open on both ends so the person or animal being rescued can more easily be pulled from the water.

NORWAY VOLUNTEER FIRE Department Ice Rescue Team members Carl Oslund and Louie Bonetti walk on the ice at Lake Antoine on Friday to rescue two golden retrievers that fell through the ice. (Chris Tomassucci/Daily News photo)

They were several feet from the dogs when they broke through as well. Oslund said they continued pushing through the ice toward the dogs, which were in about 5 feet of water. At the same time, the dogs were trying to get to them, with one dog able to swim up to him, he said.

Both dogs were lifted onto the boat and then pulled by the team across the ice, with the two men holding on and sliding on their bellies. Team members immediately began drying them off once on shore.

“It was a good feeling. It was rewarding to find and retrieve someone’s pets,” Oslund said.

Reached after the rescue, owner Wendy Knutson said the retrievers had escaped earlier that morning when a contractor came to the door. Living only a block from the lake, she had been driving around it searching for the dogs but looking in the wrong places, she said. During a second pass through the park, someone told her of the ice rescue.

“I panicked and immediately drove there,” Knutson said. “I was very thankful they were OK.”

RUFUS AND CHANCE get immediate attention after being rescued from Lake Antoine by Norway Volunteer Fire Department Ice Rescue Team members Carl Oslund and Louie Bonetti after breaking through the ice Friday. (Chris Tomassucci/Daily News photo)

The dogs — Chance, 5, and Rufus, 8 — love the water and swimming, she said.

“Chance is the leader and Rufus, he followed,” Knutson said. “That’s why they are not allowed to run.”

The dogs both seem to be doing well at home, she said. A veterinarian advised she wrap them in blankets but have them get up and move around every 15 minutes. Knutson said they spent the afternoon snuggling with her.

She and her husband, John, are thankful to everyone who had a role in the rescue.

Members of the ice rescue team who worked from shore included Fire Chief Dave Bal, Jerry Bal, Anthony Bal, Rich Bellmore, Andrew Hutchinson and Tony Guiliani. Also assisting were members of the Dickinson County Sheriff’s Department and Breitung Township Volunteer Fire Department.


News clerk Chris Tomassucci contributed to this story.


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