SPENCER, Iowa – The two dogs shivering on an ice shelf over the Little Sioux River should have been excited to see the firefighters and police officers braving frigid temperatures to lure them to shore.
But despite firefighters' best attempts to coax or lasso the dogs to get them off the ice Tuesday afternoon, the wayward canines were having none of it. At least they weren't until they smelled what the local country club was cooking.
Spencer Fire Chief Doug Duncan said one of the dogs, a female German shepherd mix, had already fallen into the water and floated down the river. Although the animal was out of the water when the department's cold-water rescue team arrived, she and her yellow Labrador retriever companion rebuffed efforts to get them to safety.
Firefighters were in a jam, Duncan said, because they weren't about to take the risk of putting the rescue team onto the ice and having the people and dogs fall into the Little Sioux River.
“They weren't being very cooperative,” Duncan said of the dogs.
That is, they weren't until Spencer Police Chief Mark Lawson brought the secret weapon: leftovers from the nearby Spencer Golf & Country Club.
“It wasn't five seconds when they set it on the bank that the German shepherd was up and off the ice,” Lawson said.
The dogs were then loaded into the back of Lawson's squad car and taken to Animal Medical Center in Spencer.
Veterinarian Janessa Mechler said the dogs came through their icy adventure in good order and will spend the next three days at the clinic, which impounds animals for the city of Spencer. If they aren't claimed by then, the dogs will go to local rescue People For Pets.
Duncan said the leftovers worked so well he's going to keep it in mind for any future animal rescues.
“It was fast-thinking on the chief's part to come up with that idea because I don't carry dog treats with me,” Duncan said.
Although the Spencer Golf & Country Club restaurant caters to the palates of people, not dogs, manager Jackie Wampler said they were happy to be of service.
“I'm glad we could help,” she said.