A shoreline stroll for me and a doggone sweet story for you.

Every February, usually the coldest and snowiest month of the year here in the Mitten State, a crowd of people flock to Dingell Park at the shoreline of the Detroit River. Some are photographers that set up tripods and use lenses the length of one’s arm, but most are ordinary folks toting binoculars, small cameras, or holding up their smartphones, all hoping to catch a glimpse, or capture an image, of the many Bald Eagles which frequent Mud Island.

Mud Island, a 21-acre uninhabited island across from Dingell Park, is comprised of dredge material, but has become a local habitat for a variety of songbirds, as well as the eagles, because of the abundance of trees in its naturally growing forest. There are Maple, Ash, Cottonwood and Willow trees on this property. It is rumored that deer, snakes and coyotes live on the island.

Here are some photos of Mud Island taken from the pavilion area.

A narrow passage of water called the Ecorse Channel is between Mud Island and Dingell Park. That water is full of aquatic plants which sustain the waterfowl, plus there is an abundance of fish which those same waterfowl and local fishermen covet and often compete for.

The eagles are savvy and know that during this time period the water generally freezes; if not solid, there are plenty of ice floes on which the eagles will perch and scope out the fish. The herons and seagulls at this venue are often found fishing on those same ice floes. So you can see why photographers are assured they will come home with a treasure trove of images from a visit to this venue in the dead of Winter.

Every year I usually hightail it to Dingell Park with my camera and binoculars two or three times during February and even early March. I suspect our brutal February likely took some of the pizazz out of this annual event, since never-ending snow, ice and cold pummeled this area for most of that month. But, once February’s incessant snow, ice and cold had departed, I was still hesitant to head there as the pavilion is fairly small and the crowd generally gathers, shoulder to shoulder, on the pavilion platform as it affords the best view.

Also, I kept checking the John D. Dingell Park Facebook page and it was NOT brimming with eagle and waterfowl shots by local photographers this year, so I suspected others were uneasy about social distancing just as I was.

But … I finally decided to throw caution to the wind and visit this venue on an early March weekday, but with a stipulation. If I saw the whites of anyone’s eyes, I wouldn’t even leave the car but instead head to Bishop Park, a mere two miles away, where the gulls pose and provide plenty of blog fodder.

It was a very cold, windy and gray morning and I left the house at 7:30 a.m. I figured no one else would be dumb enough to be traipsing along the water’s edge and I guessed 100% correctly, as I had the place to myself. Though I never saw a bald eagle, it was all good anyway as I took dozens of shots of the Mute Swans, a photogenic Canada Goose and a Mallard or two. I was patting myself on the back for going there, when it started to flurry. Soon big flakes were furiously flying and luckily I was under the pavilion, so I decided to wait it out.

The flurries persisted and then finally stopped, so I headed to Bishop Park, then Council Point Park, where flurries started and stopped at least three more times. Grrr!

So here’s a few shots of the waterfowl I saw at Dingell Park that morning. After my photos will be the second part of this long post, a tale that is sure to warm your heart despite the frigid locale.

Miracle on the Detroit River.

We’ve all heard about Sully Sullenberger’s Miracle on the Hudson and landing his plane on the Hudson River back in 2009 … well this tale is about Miracle on the Detroit River in 2021.

This story unfolded on the coldest day of this Winter Season. The 2021 Polar Vortex affected 86% of the country and 235 million people. Here in SE Michigan, the mercury had plunged to about -6F (-14C) that morning, and, like most Midwestern homeowners during this extreme cold spell, for about a week I had every tap trickling warm water and was washing small loads of laundry several times a day to warm the pipes.

On that bitter cold day, Wednesday, February 17th, a local photographer named Tim Epperly braved the elements and went to Dingell Park. Through his camera’s viewfinder he saw something which would soon captivate local residents, holding their rapt attention for the next four days (and even beyond that time period).

Tim Epperly used his camera’s long lens to focus on the object which was a small shaggy-haired dog. There was also a coyote. He watched the coyote chasing the small dog across the ice. This prompted Tim Epperly to capture the images he saw in the viewfinder, then he posted these images on Dingell Park’s Facebook page.

I happened to check out the Dingell Park Facebook site that evening, and, sitting here swaddled in my polar fleece jammies, the furnace roaring away, I was just as horrified as the many commenters who begged someone to do something to rescue that dog.

Patricia Trevino, Manager of the River Rouge Animal Shelter, doggedly pursued getting a rescue for this pooch. She pleaded with authorities to allow someone to go onto the ice, but, just a few days before, someone had jumped up and down on the ice a few miles down the River and plunged through (with no body recovered yet). The police were worried someone might lose their life trying to save the dog’s life and therefore immediately secured Dingell Park for everyone’s safety.

Over the next few days, within the presence of the police, people set up grills along the shoreline, hoping the smell of cooked meat wafting across the Ecorse Channel and the Detroit River would entice this shaggy pup to cross the ice and come to Dingell Park. But the idea, as brilliant as it was, did not work. Someone contacted WXYZ TV station and a reporter got involved as Ms. Trevino hounded and pleaded for someone to use an airboat or some device to rescue the dog as the brutal temps continued. There were many comments on each post that updated the status of the dog and situation.

Meanwhile, the plot thickened.

Across the Detroit River in Canada, the story likewise was a trending topic on their local news. The photographer, Tim Epperly, continued monitoring the dog, which was now closer to the Canadian side of the Detroit River.

Enter Jude Mead, Director of Operations at J&J Marine over in Windsor, who would relieve the angst of all of us animal lovers as he went on a mission on Sunday, February 21st to retrieve the poor pup, who by then had spent (at least) four days on the ice, after being chased by the coyote and was alone, cold and probably very hungry.

Jude Mead and another fellow hopped onto an airboat provided by nearby Wyandotte’s BASF Chemical Company.

The location of the pup was pinpointed here in Tim Epperly’s long lens image just before the rescue took place.

Next, Jude Mead sped across to the American side of the Detroit River. This was his arrival at Dingell Park’s boardwalk; look at the pup’s ice-covered legs and paws.

After placing the pooch in Patricia Trevino’s arms, amid collective cheers and tears, the nearly frozen dog was whisked away to the nearby Woodhaven Animal Hospital.

And they called it puppy love

At Woodhaven Animal Hospital, Dr. Lucretia Greear went to work on this pooch, which we learned, via both Facebook sites, was someone’s pet named “Alfonso” who had escaped. The owner surrendered Alfonso and Dr. Greear promptly nicknamed him “Miracle” and upon examining him said the dog likely survived due to its heavily matted fur which offered some protection from the frigid temps. A crowdfunding site was soon brimming with donations to help pay for Miracle’s care. Thereafter, warm wishes, as well as many doggie sweaters and toys, were swiftly dropped off at the vet’s office.

Miracle was given sessions in a hyperbaric oxygen chamber to assist in his recovery.

Photographer Tim Epperly captured these sweet photos of Miracle at the vet’s office after the matted hair was shaved off.

Here Miracle is sporting a sweater and showing off his haircut.

I’ve been following Miracle’s story in the news and via Woodhaven Animal Hospital’s Facebook site. Besides hyperbaric oxygen therapy for his frostbite injuries, Miracle had stem cell surgery for his existing hip dysplasia, medicine for prior pancreatitis woes and, after healing from those treatments and surgery, he was released to a foster family. He will be up for adoption in a few weeks. There are people from here in Michigan and Canada who want to adopt Miracle, as well as national and international inquiries about his adoption. What a heartwarming story with a good ending.

This was a photo taken of Dr. Greear and Miracle and featured in a March 6th update on his health on the vet’s Facebook site.

Thank goodness for Tim Epperly whose keen eye and his camera’s long lens spotted Miracle, Jude Mead for coming to the rescue of this poor pooch and Dr. Greear’s expertise and devotion to Miracle … all wonderful human beings who have given Miracle a new lease on life.

[Images used in this post about Miracle are from the Dingell Park and Woodhaven Animal Hospital’s Facebook pages and are mostly by photographer Tim Epperly.]

About Linda Schaub

This is my first blog and I enjoy writing each and every post immensely. I started a walking regimen in 2011 and decided to create a blog as a means of memorializing the people, places and things I see on my daily walks. I have always enjoyed people watching, and so my blog is peppered with folks I meet, or reflections of characters I have known through the years. Often something piques my interest, or evokes a pleasant memory from my memory bank, so this becomes a “slice o’ life” blog post that day. I respect and appreciate nature and my interaction with Mother Nature’s gifts is also a common theme. Sometimes the most-ordinary items become fodder for points to ponder over and touch upon. My career has been in the legal field and I have been a legal secretary for four decades, primarily working in downtown Detroit, and now working from my home. I graduated from Wayne State University with a degree in print journalism in 1978, though I’ve never worked in that field. I like to think this blog is the writer in me finally emerging!! Walking and writing have met and shaken hands and the creative juices are flowing once again in Walkin’, Writin’, Wit & Whimsy – hope you think so too. - Linda Schaub
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54 Responses to A shoreline stroll for me and a doggone sweet story for you.

  1. J P says:

    Wow, it’s good to see how folks come together. It’s kind of amazing that the coyote didn’t get to the dog first.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      It sure was JP – social media and local TV and radio stations, even”People magazine online” carried the story. Now the question will be “who will provide a furever home to this pup since so many people want him?” If not for Tim, Miracle likely would have fallen prey to the brutal cold or a coyote.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. Sandra J says:

    Amazing story Linda, so nice to see people work to help animals in need. Love all the bird photos as well, I can’t wait to start seeing them here again. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Glad you enjoyed reading this heartwarming story Sandra. I thought of waiting until the update where Miracle went to live, but decided that might take a while … I am sure they will be very choosy when getting a furever home for him. I’m glad you liked the bird photos. That was my one and only time going to look for eagles but I was happy to come home with photos of swans and this goose who seemed to like posing for me.

      Like

  3. agingfaithandcreativity says:

    Awesome post!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. What a wonderful story with a happy ending! That is some tough pup!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      I thought you might enjoy this Kate since you’re an animal lover and have adopted shelter pets. The picture with the frozen fur just breaks your heart … so many folks worried for this little guy. He is a tough pup. And, just like your post about the cat’s adoption, I wish Miracle the best too.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Ally Bean says:

    What a great story. Miracle is going to life a great life now. But what a way to find your forever home.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Glad you enjoyed it Ally. This dog is a trooper … and it has multiple lives, just like a cat. It survived the coyote and the cold. I hope Miracle is put into a home where he will be cherished the rest of his days.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. ruthsoaper says:

    Glad the story had a happy ending but I can’t believe it took 4 days to get someone to rescue him. I would have thought the authorities could have done more.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Yes, I’m glad too Ruth and I knew you would like this story since you have adopted from a shelter … I’m wondering if Miracle will be adopted out of the vet’s office or the River Rouge Animal Shelter? I think the authorities were worried that someone else would fall through the ice and drown like the person a few days before, but there were many people who were willing to take a risk and rescue him. Thankfully the airboat rescue could take place. I’ve never seen an airboat before … I was glued to my seat through this entire saga

      Liked by 1 person

      • ruthsoaper says:

        I suspect that Miracle will find a good home. There are a people with a lot of compassion that will be willing to take him in and love him. I’m sure the vet;s office will screen the applicants well. I was just wondering why the sheriff’s marine division didn’t get involved or the Coast Guard – they are equipped and trained for water rescue.

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I agree with you Ruth. I didn’t go into this in the post as it was already long enough, but the original owner gave the dog to another family member. That original owner had other pets in the house. They didn’t say why he gave the dog away. At the family member’s home, he escaped. It was the original owner who surrendered the dog to the vet’s office. Also, in speaking with the vet, Dr. Greear offered to give free medical care to his other pets. Very nice of her isn’t it?

        I was following the ongoing saga on Facebook and they did ask for a water rescue but the authorities, but they did not do it. Maybe their resources were stretched thin? There were boaters that were trying to figure out a way to go rescue him, so that’s when the police secured the area … luckily Miracle headed closer to Canada where they used the air boat for the rescue.

        Liked by 1 person

  7. What a heart-warming story!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Beautiful swans, but I really love the Miracle Story! I had read about it online. It’s so nice to see that people cooperated and saved this pup. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Thanks Sabine – I was lucky to see those swans … the reward for going there in the frigid cold to see eagles (after I told you I would table the eagle visit until next year due to COVID). The vet’s Facebook site posted a local news story and “People” magazine also had a story online as well. It was heartwarming that so many people worried about and helped to save this pup.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. AnnMarie R stevens says:

    Miss Linda…………………………………….thank you for sending us the whole true story about “Miracle”…………………………..it makes me feel good that there are a lot of people around nearby who love animals and go out of their way to help them……………………………

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      You’re welcome Ann Marie – glad you enjoyed reading the entire story about “Miracle” … he had a lot of people pulling for him, not only down at Dingell Park over those four days, but also those following along on social media and/or the radio and TV as I heard the story multiple times on WWJ. It makes me feel good too … you are someone who looks out for animals. I remember you and your friends calling about the injured duck at your pond. I am still kicking myself that I never alerted anyone about those Khaki Campbell domestic ducks I saw at the Park in December. I hopes some kind soul took them in over the Winter.

      Like

  10. Laurie says:

    Awww…I love a story with a happy ending! I am glad Miracle was rescued and is doing well. What a great collective effort to rescue a doggy that needed a lot of help.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Glad you liked it Laurie – it was a feel-good story at a time we really needed it, not just for this COVID era, but during that brutally cold, snowy, mid-February week. People here followed the story online, on the radio/TV … it captivated us all and I’m glad the ending went so well. Even if you have never owned a dog or a pet, you could not help but admire the teamwork involved in getting this dog help.

      Like

  11. Awwwww what a beautiful story to read about! With so much tragedy in todays world it was nice to read something with the perfect ending. Thank you for sharing this Linda.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      I agree with you Diane – not only has COVID ruled our lives but also that extreme cold that week – we needed a little lift and this sure provided it. Glad you enjoyed the story of Miracle.

      Like

  12. Joni says:

    That was an amazing and suspenseful story Linda. Amazing that he could survive that length of time as it was simply frigid most of February. I’m surprised there was that much ice across the span of water that he could get that close to the Canadian side. I’ve not seen too much solid ice in the river here, just ice floes and those are mostly gone now. I’ve given up on any bald eagle sightings too. I think they must have gone south for spring break! Even the photographers have left. I’m disappointed as I wanted to blog about it and include some of my mom’s eagle paintings.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Glad you enjoyed the story Joni … everyone was left biting their nails while we waited to see if some type of rescue could be effected. It made for a nice story that someone from Canada was willing to cut across and grab up that little dog and bring him back over to the American side. It was disappointing for me too not to see any eagles – maybe next year? I hope you see some to use some of your mom’s paintings.

      Liked by 1 person

  13. That poor little dog. But lucky in the end! Even though I knew the story had a happy ending it was nice to hear all of it and see the pictures — thanks for sharing the heartwarming tale. People are capable of some amazing kindnesses. I love your swan portraits, and the goose with its mouth open and the one looking up to the sky. Mud Island looks like a wonderful place for a walk in the woods. 🙂 I’m sorry you didn’t get to spot an eagle this time out but I bet you will some day!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Glad you enjoyed this story Barbara. It was so heartwarming to see that all those people that banded together to share their expertise and all the people, whether gathered at Dingell Park, or at home watching the Facebook site and rooting for the dog. It is a nice riverside park, even if the eagles are only there about six weeks a year, as lots of waterfowl are there to entertain you and you can take photos of them. The swans were almost right under my nose. 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

  14. This tale ended happily Linda thank God but I know many do not and we just never hear about them.
    Great story and hard work on your part

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      I know Wayne – it was not this dog’s time to go yet. What an ordeal it had. Those poor pitiful paws and front feet with all the frost and snow caked on them. He had frostbite on those paws. Thank you and glad you liked the story. My little walk set up the story so you could where Miracle was walking around initially before he ran over to the Canadian side where those nice Canadians were so accommodating in rescuing him.

      Like

      • the thing that sticks out is that this animal is not a wild animal,It is a domesticated animal.
        Domesticated creatures are not as strong as their wild cousins.
        This is what I hear happening each year…… some dog goes through the ice and somebody goes out to save it!
        Of course they go through and drown while the dog manages to get to shore ok!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        I wonder why the coyote gave up so easily? I have heard stories about pets on the ice who live, but their owner loses their life too Wayne – always sad to hear them. Same thing in a large body of water. Dog falls out of a boat or runs off a dock and struggles, owner dives in, doesn’t surface.

        Liked by 1 person

      • I’m speculating of course……..but my best guess is that Coyotes tummy was half full. In other words it wasn’t starving,or it most certainly would of pursued!

        Liked by 1 person

      • Linda Schaub says:

        Yes, that makes sense … I had thought perhaps too cold to make a pursuit but in the wild, coyotes deal with every type of element, so this was nothing new to them.

        Like

  15. Wow! What a wonderful story and what a lucky dog! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Yes, animals touch more hearts, sometimes, than people do. Strange world, isn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Pam Lazos says:

    Also, you should adopt him!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Pingback: “Miracle” is now a Canuck! | WALKIN', WRITIN', WIT & WHIMSY

  19. susieshy45 says:

    This is such a warming story. I hope Miracle is doing well now- maybe he was abandoned in the first place because of high medical care costs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Linda Schaub says:

      Glad you like this story Susie. After the vet disclosed Miracle’s pancreatis and hip dysplasia issues, I likewise wondered if this was the reason. The original owner gave the dog to his son (I believe it was a son or son-in-law) and then the dog was lost. The veterinarian in this story was super … when the original owner surrendered the dog and didn’t want ownership at all and said he had pets of his own and could not afford to take care of them, this veterinarian said to bring them in and she would check them out. People raised money in no time for this dog’s care … he had a lot of procedures done at the vet’s office. Susie, you read the original story and I just did a follow-up story on Saturday. Jude Meade, the Canadian fellow who rescued the dog off the ice is going to adopt him. This is the post:
      https://lindaschaubblog.net/2021/03/27/miracle-is-now-a-canuck/

      Like

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