The Infamous Beardie – Sam (2)

Sam’s first sighting of a seagull brought with it an identity crisis which was never resolved. Was he a Beardie, or was he a bird? Hard to be certain – but Sam’s uncertainty led him (and me!) in to many a predicament.

Perhaps the worst occurred one January, when the wind was whipping the sea in to such a frenzy that mountainous waves were assaulting the Gower coast and the tides at Three Cliffs and Pobbles Bays were singularly untrustworthy.

That Sunday morning, I had no thought of going down to the beach. Walking with Sam high on the cliffs, my priorities were to return to the warmth of home and have breakfast. But my bird-dog had other ideas!

As I paused in my walk, to talk to a fellow stroller, Sam took himself off. Next thing I knew, he was barking from way below me, on golden sands that were fast disappearing beneath the incoming sea. Happy as can be, he was all but flying across the beach in pursuit of a whole flock of gulls that were adding to his fun by lifting off in different directions.

This way and that Sam went, oblivious to everything except trying to fly like his friends. He had not noticed that the sea was rapidly taking over his territory. I shouted to warn him, but my shouts were wafted away on the wind. Not that he, engaged in his favorite activity, would necessarily have heeded my warning, had he heard it. Scared stiff, I hurtled down the nearest path – reaching Pobbles beach just as a gigantic wave crashed over rocks at the furthermost point and curled across the shore, lifting Sam bodily and sweeping him out of his depth. With that one wave, the last of the beach had vanished and I had had to scramble on to a rock-formation jutting from the foot of the cliffs in order to avoid sharing Sam’s compulsory swim.

Terrified for him, there in that churning cauldron, panic froze me for a few moments. In my frozen state, I saw Sam succeed in clambering on to a solitary rock that seemed to me, then, to be situated in mid-ocean. As he clung, with waves surging round him, I strove to work out how best to mount a rescue operation.

My bedraggled boy clearly had no intention of leaving his rock voluntarily – and if I went to him the chances were that we would both drown. But if I didn’t, and a wave tossed him from his precarious perch, it could also hurl him against my range of rocks, stunning him, with perhaps tragic consequences.

Remembering that life-saving equipment was positioned by the path from Pobbles, I began a race against time, trying to reach it and Sam before the sea claimed him.

Luckily, there was a man walking his Corgi down the path – and he reacted speedily to my cries for help. A native of the area (while I was a relative newcomer) he understood wintry tides better than I did. Waiting for a wave that receded farther and faster than its predecessors, this good samaritan plunged in to the sea waist-deep and waded out to Sam’s rock. Surmounting this, he pushed the wingless bird into the water! Riding, literally, on the crest of a wave, Sam surged toward me and was deposited safely on the far side of a deep gully. Even without wings, this presented no problem and we were soon enjoying a soggy reunion.

But his rescuer was still stranded on the rock! Shouting my heartfelt thanks across, I heard the response: “I may yet need rescuing!”

Fresh panic set in. How fast could I alert the rescue services? I must save Sam’s savior if it was the last thing I did. His Corgi looked at me expectantly as I tried to look confident… and competent.

Before there was need for me to demonstrate my rescuing ability, a giant wave surged and then receded sufficiently to permit a reprieve, after which thanks could be properly given.

Did Sam’s life-threatening experience deter him from further gull and sea-related adventures? I wish I could report that it did, but it did not. If gulls were in the vicinity, Sam seemed to lose all doggy instinct. I even saw him surrounded by rabbits, on the moors, unaware of their existence because a gull was overhead. And I saw him ’round up’ a solitary sheep on Rhossili beach, only to abandon it as the gulls again began teasing him. But that’s another story…

Copyright: Pamela Glynn

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