Let me tell you a tale about Maxwell the Whippet. Back in the early 70’s I had a girlfriend, Joni, She had a dog called Maxwell, he was a beautiful brindled whippet, a wonderful dog. I had a friend, David who had the use of his uncles sailboat- a 30ft Cal 30, one day he asked if we’d like to go sailing with him that weekend, I said ‘Yeah, we’d love to’.
So on the Saturday he and I and Joni and Maxwell left the Long Beach Marina and headed out to sea, when we were about 3-4 miles offshore a stiff breeze sprang up and the water became very choppy, lots of whitecaps. We were cruising along at a steady clip when suddenly Maxwell, in one splendid leap sailed over the side of the boat! He must have felt very insecure there and needed to escape, the trouble was he didn’t know about water, he’d never been in it before. We were moving at such a brisk rate that all I could see was his little head bobbing above the waves and receding very quickly.
I realized immediately that it would take far to long to bring the boat about and to try to return to the same spot, he’d be long gone. So I kicked off my shoes, my shirt and pants, and I dived in. It was freezing! I swam to him and saw that he was frantic, he’d never been in water before and it was breaking over his head. I swam right up to him and treading water I enclosed his body in my arms and started whispering in his ear to calm him, off on the horizon I saw the sailboat starting to turn around. I was clutching him and treading water and at one point he tried to escape, he kicked me under, I remember thinking ‘Is this it, is this how it all ends?’ but I came up and I grabbled him again. Then he tried to climb out of the water by climbing up my chest, he ripped my chest to shreds with his claws, I was bleeding profusely and I could only think about sharks. We’d been in the water for about 10-15 minutes.
Suddenly I saw an outboard boat very close, the guy on board said, ‘You need any help buddy?’ Jesus, did I need help. He negotiated the boat right next to us and leaned over and grabbed Maxwell’s collar with one hand and with a swift pull he sailed him up and over the side and into the boat. I was so exhausted that I didn’t have the energy to pull myself up and over so he did the same for me. The area of his boat where we were sitting was the stern and it was entirely white shiny plastic, the deck, the seats the the sides, everything was white. I was hugging Maxwell with a very secure grip on his collar when suddenly he let go of about a gallon of very liquid diarrhea, it went everywhere! Christ, the guy’s just saved my life and this is how I repay him! But it was not serious, he pulled out a hose and in a minute we were sparkling white again.
The sailboat arrived but it was so choppy that we couldn’t do a boat to boat transfer so he volunteered to return to the marina. Wonderful guy and I was in such an exhausted condition that I never even got his phone number, I would have liked to have at least taken him out to dinner.
That’s the Maxwell saga [one of them, there’s more].