Lake Huron was churning. Waves splattered against the golden sand leaving welts in the landscape. Just down the shore the red flag flew briskly at the lifeguard station in Grand Bend, but at Port Blake the beach was quiet. It was early in the day and Santa and Jessie had ridden the sleigh down to Southern Ontario to spend the day with Santa’s old uncle who was celebrating his 110th birthday. Santa wasn’t looking forward to the celebration. His uncle was ailing, and he didn’t like seeing him in pain, but a celebration there would be. Later in the day they would attend the party but for now Jessie enjoyed a quiet time walking down the beach with her best friend.
The pair walked down towards the public beach just away from the water. Every time the waves got near Jessie’s feet she ran upwards onto the sand. She had never liked open water and had no intention of getting her feet wet.
Santa picked up a stick and threw it for the dog. They happily played fetch while making their way down the shore. Santa threw the stick and Jessie ran to catch it. She returned it to Santa and then barked until he threw it again. Santa picked up the stick for another throw but stopped abruptly. He could hear someone calling nearby. “Help!” the voice called. “Help me please!”
Santa immediately dropped the stick and scanned the beach looking for the caller. Not finding anyone he turned his attention to the water. A small boy was caught in the fierce undertow. He was trying to keep a raft from submerging. The boy tried to row his way into shore only to be tossed out in the water further.
Santa threw off his shirt and limped towards the water. His sprained ankle, although better, was still giving him problems and he walked with a definite gimp. He stumbled into the water and made his way the best he could to the small boy. He caught the raft and held onto it just as a wave overtook the pair and dashed water over their heads leaving them gasping for breath.
On the shore Jessie barked and whined. She ran back and forth across the sand looking for Santa’s head over the waves. When she finally caught sight of him she stopped and wagged the tip of the tail. She nudged herself forward so that her feet were actually touching the water and then began barking again.
Santa held onto the boy and tried to limp into the shore but his foot was too weak. He slipped and his head went under. Water churned above his head and filled his belly. He forced himself upward through the waves to the sunlight. He came up gasping and coughing up water. The boy began to cry as Santa grabbed the raft and held on tightly.
Jessie edged herself further into the water. A huge wave overtook her and pulled her outwards into the surf. She dog paddled her way to Santa and grabbed his shorts with her teeth. She then tried dog paddling back to the shore. Jessie was strong and she moved the group forward when another wave overtook them. They were pulled back several feet but Jessie persevered and slowly but steadily the group was heading towards shore.
Then, several kayakers from shore saw the group and came out to help. The grabbed the wet and tired dog and pulled her into one kayak. The other kayaker threw a rope to Santa and paddled with all his might to the shore. Eventually, after much exertion, the group made it safely to shore.
Too exhausted to speak Santa lay on the sand and listened to the boy sob. The kayakers took care of the boy and returned to Santa. “Is there somewhere we can take you and the dog sir? Are you sure that you shouldn’t see a doctor?” A brawny, blonde haired man held out his hand to help Santa up from the sand,
“No, thank-you. Thanks to you Tommy we are fine.” Santa sniffed and adjusted his wet shorts.
‘Err… how did you know my name? “Tommy frowned as he massaged the water out of Jessie’s coat with an old beach towel.”
“I heard your friend say it.” Santa fibbed. He knew his name from his Christmas list but thought it might be better if he thought otherwise.
“That’s a special dog. She tried to save you. You’re lucky to have such a companion.” Tommy ruffled the dogs head and stood up.
“Yes, I’m very lucky. She saved my life in more ways than one. Bringing her home was one of the smartest thing I’ve ever done. Thank you Tommy but we should go. Jessie, let’s go find Uncle Melvin. I feel like a celebration now. Life is too short. You never know what is going to happen and we should celebrate every minute. What do you think?” Santa glanced at the dog.
Jessie barked and jumped up. She shook her coat from side to side spraying the lake water on everyone and grabbed a stick. Santa and Jessie walked down the beach each holding onto the stick together.