Teens rescue marooned mutt Dog's best friend

February 14, 1992|By Ann LoLordo | Ann LoLordo,Staff Writer

Kenny Smith and Yadira Rodriguez called the police, the Fire Department, the ASPCA and City Hall. And when it appeared that no one would rescue the floppy-eared dog from the island in the lake at Patterson Park yesterday, the teen-agers took matters into their own hands.

Eyeing her taller, muscled friend, Yadi said, "You're too heavy. Give me the raft."

Belly down on the raft, which actually was an inner tube, the 14-year-old Southeast Baltimore girl paddled out to the island and the stranded pooch. But before she could paddle back, police and firefighters arrived. Concerned about the girl's safety, an officer in an inflatable boat rowed out to the island.

Yadi insisted the officer take the dog to shore first. He did, and then returned for her.

"I said I'd rather let the dog go in," the 5-foot, 104-pound Canton Middle School eighth-grader explained, as she recalled the rescue.

And yesterday, Yadi Rodriguez was determined to rescue a strange dog from its island outpost in the boat lake at Patterson Park.

"It's like if a human being was there. It was suffering," said the teen-ager, as she sat in the living room of her family's Fleet Street rowhouse, warmer and drier than she had been only hours before. "I was just determined to get across and get the dog."

With her own dog, Penny, romping at her feet, Yadi recounted how, instead of sledding down a snowy slope, she spent the morning splashing through the icy cold water on the inner tube. When she and her neighbor, Kenny Smith, first arrived at the park, they saw the dog on the island.

Kenny went for help, but "nobody wanted to come out. I called the ASPCA (American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals), Friends of Animals, City Hall, 911, the Fire Department. I called everybody," said the 15-year-old.

Intending to save the dog himself, the teen-ager returned to the park, where he and Yadi persuaded a man to lend them the inner tube he was using to slide down the snowy hills.

The lighter of the two, Yadi volunteered to go. She climbed over a 4-foot-high iron fence that surrounds the boat lake. Someone gave her a leash, which she wrapped around the inner tube. Then she flopped down on the tube and paddled the 30 or 40 feet to the island.

When she got to the other side, she grabbed tree roots and pulled herself off the raft. "While I was pushing myself up, that's when I got wet," said the youngster, who was dressed in jeans, a gray hooded sweat shirt and a windbreaker.

She walked toward the dog. "And it went to bite me," said Yadi, who later attached the leash to a chain around the dog's neck. "I kneeled down and started to sweet-talk him. He started weeping. It was scared. I took my jacket off and put it on the dog. I sat beside him. He put his head in my lap and I started patting him."

From across the lake, Kenny yelled that the police were on their way.

Agent Burton S. Israel rowed over. He made sure Yadi was safe and gave her a life vest.

Concerned about how the dog would react in the boat, he took the mutt first.

"Better the dog go in the water or both of us," said Agent Israel, a member of the Police Department's marine unit. "She did say the dog could bite. I figured let it bite me. I made sure I talked calmly to the dog and explained the situation."

Then Agent Israel rowed back to get Yadi.

Kenny wrapped a blanket about his young friend and the two, with the dog, walked to the boy's house in the 2400 block of Foster Avenue.

"I'm determined to keep the dog," Yadi said yesterday afternoon.

"You'll have to ask your father first," said the girl's mother, Esperanza Rodriguez.

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