On Friday, Feb. 19, Nogiko Kertesz took her two shih-tzus, Skoshi and Daise-Mae, for a walk in their neighborhood in Bayside.
“We have a few lakes here along the golf course. I took my two dogs out for my usual afternoon walk,” explained Kertesz. “I always keep the dogs on the leash going out walking anyplace I go. That particular day was all snow-covered, everywhere, nobody around on the street, and I took the leash off my little female, Daise-Mae.”
The little one-and-a-half year-old dog loves the snow, according to her owner, and took off running when Kertesz briefly looked away.
“I think what happened with the snow being on the ground and the ice being over the water, with all the white, she couldn’t distinguish all the land from the water,” said Kertesz’s husband, Robert, who was at work at the time of the incident.
In what seemed to be a matter of seconds, Dasie-Mae was standing in the middle of a frozen pond within the golf-course community.
“I called out to her to come back. She always minds me very well, but she kept going, going, and I could see she was going to where the ice was very thin and watery,” Nogiko Kertesz recalled. “I was screaming at her to come back, and all of a sudden she fell in.”
The dog was surrounded by ice and unable to swim around, due to the freezing temperatures and the heavy wool coat she was wearing, which was by then completely soaked. Dasie-Mae was, however, able to put her front paws on top of some ice to stay above the water.
“She was calling me and crying, and I kept saying, ‘Come on, come on, come back,’ but she couldn’t move,” Kertesz said.
Knowing she had to get help to save her dog’s life, and having left her cell phone at home, Kertesz ran to the road to flag down a car.
While the driver of the car called the rescue squad, a father and son stopped in their car.
“All of a sudden this young man – he couldn’t be more than 14 or15 years old – he takes his coat off, ‘I’ll go help her. I’ll go get that dog,’” continued Kertesz. “He starts going into the frozen pond. He was OK for a while, but all of a sudden it got too deep, the water got all the way up to his chest. He said it was too cold. He turned around and came back.”
Two women also stopped to see what all the commotion was about and said they would go get their canoe and come back.
“Meanwhile, I’m getting hysterical. I decided I’d go into the water, but the young man stopped me and said, “I’m sorry ma’am, you can’t go in there because then we try to rescue you and we’ll lose the dog.’ He said, ‘Don’t worry if that dog sinks, I won’t let her die. I will get that dog.’”
Waiting for the rescue squad was unbearable for Kurtsz, who was trying to think of some way to rescue Dasie-Mae.
“It felt like forever for them to get there. I’m sure it didn’t take that long, but for me it felt too long,” Kurtesz said.
Kurtsz wasn’t the only one upset about Daise-Mae. The family’s other dog, 12-year-old Skoshi, seemed anxious, as well.
“Skoshi was quite upset. She just sat around and looked really concerned. My wife said even when Dasie-Mae was in the water, Skoshi tried to go out and they had to hold her back,” Robert Kurtesz said. “It must have been a real traumatic thing. I shouldn’t say I’m glad I wasn’t there – but to be honest with you, I think I would have jumped into the water and gotten her. I hate to see my wife distraught. I would’ve done anything.”
The women returned with their canoe and a rescue squad worker arrived on the scene. He got into the canoe and paddled out to the dog, cracking the ice surrounding her. With the cracked ice, Daise-Mae was able to move and get up onto some solid ice, where she was picked up by the rescue worker and returned to Kertesz on dry land.
Kertesz took off Daise-Mae’s soaked sweater and then took off her own coat and wrapped the dog in it.
They returned to their home, where Robert Kurtesz had since returned from work.
“She was, of course, frantic, and crying – you know, completely distraught. And she had the dog. Her arm was wrapped in her coat and the dog was just shivering. She was a pitiful sight, I tell you that,” said Robert Kurtesz.
Nogiko Kurtesz put Daise-Mae into a hot bath, while Robert Kurtesz called the vet. Finding that their regular veterinarian’s office was closed, he went online to search for help. He visited an online vet Web site, where they were able to message a vet about Daise-Mae’s condition.
The online vet had Robert Kurtesz check Daise-Mae’s temperature, see if she would eat and make sure that her paws and gums were pink. With everything looking normal, the Kurteszes just did all they could to keep their little dog warm. After the bath, Nogiko Kurtesz towel-dried Daise-Mae and used a blow-dryer to help dry off the dog. They then placed her by their fireplace to keep warm.
“And, little by little, she was back to herself again. We’re so blessed. I thank the Lord for saving her life. All this time I prayed, ‘Please, God, just don’t let her die,’” said Nogiko Kertesz. “They are my two kids, you know, since all my children are grown and gone, and the two little dogs became our two little kids.”
It’s been two weeks since the ordeal, and little Daise-Mae is now back to her old self. One would think with such a traumatic experience the pooch might be afraid of water, but Robert Kurtesz said she’s anything but.
“No!” Robert Kurtesz replied with a laugh. “I took her for a walk earlier today, and she saw a crane flying very low and she started chasing. I don’t know if she would’ve jumped into the water or not. She’s fearless, it seems.”
The family is grateful for all the help they received the day Daise-Mae fell into the pond. In all the commotion, Nogiko Kurtesz didn’t find out the names or phone numbers of the people who stopped to help.
“I didn’t get a chance to thank all those people who helped me and my dog,” she said. “I’m so grateful for the people and the community that I would just like to thank all those people.”
If you were one of those good Samaritans and would like to reach the Kurteszes, call (302) 200-0419.