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Mister December 2013 - Captain
Diver Dog
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aptain is a diving dog. From his vantage at the Paradise Cove Marina boat ramp, he’s ready to plunge in to Neuse River tributaries at the splash of a hold-down strap. His owners Scott and Deb Dickinson describe his underwater recovery efforts as those of an eager, but disoriented diver.

Scott says, “he can hold his breath a long time under water. Sometimes we throw him a rock…and he comes up with a beer bottle.” Or a wheel. Or an oyster. For his search and recovery efforts, even if he comes up with something other than what he went down for, TownDock.net names Captain Mister December.

Captain and Scott Dickinson. The sign features one of Captain’s favorite snacks.
Captain with Scott and Deb at Paradise Cover Marina

Captain is a Labradoodle. Known as “Cappy”, Scott says, “his mom was a small black Lab and his dad was a huge white Poodle.” Curly haired and bounding, he inherits his love of water from his paternal side and his wavy locks from his mom.

Paradise Cove Marina is home to a diverse crowd. Over the course of a week, duck hunters and trout fishermen may mingle with music lovers, beer drinkers and dogs. Outside the bar, past the fuel pump and the sign with the fiberglass shark, is the boat ramp. It’s here, on the finger pier down from the mailbox where boaters leave their five-dollar launch fee, that Captain holds court.

Swimming makes a Labradoodle hungry. Here, Captain ponders a light snack before taking to the deep. He considers the notion you shouldn’t swim within 2 hours of eating unsporting.

Captain’s favorite haunt is the shallow section of the boat ramp, the paved stretch where boats slide off their trailers and out on to the Neuse River. Here, in dog chest deep water, Captain is content wading back and forth, feeling the bottom with his paws. Raccoon-like. Looking for rocks. When he feels what he’s looking for, a quick plunge of the head retrieves the desired item.

This is where most water loving dogs’ affair with the wet stuff ends. Some might go as far as retrieving a floating stick or ball. But should the item sink from view, the game is over.

Not so with Captain.

Captain churning up the water at the boat ramp base.
When not milling about in the shallows, Captain enjoys diving off docks. Here, he’s trying to coax Deb in to chucking a rock in the deep.

In aquatic terms, Captain is positively buoyant. That means he floats. This not being able to sink dictates Captain’s unique diving style

Depending on wind direction, the marina’s boat basin is 4 feet deep. When Scott throws a rock in the deep section, deeper than Captain can stand, Captain watches the stone arc through the air. Then he heaves himself into the water, belly flop style, and paddles madly toward the splash. Once positioned where he last caught sight of the rock, where it sank, he swims in a circle.

When the moment is right, he thrusts his head underwater and starts paddling wildly with his hind legs. Being a floater instead of a sinker, his body doesn’t want to follow his head to the bottom. Water showers and sprays and with great doggie determination he overcomes the laws of flotation and disappears under the waves.

Bubbles rise to the surface. Ripples spread across the marina waters. Then calm. No sign of dog or rock or the underwater struggle Captain is waging.

Scott says Captain can stay under water for 8, sometimes 10, seconds. Then, like a hairy porpoise breaching, Captain’s head erupts through the surface calm. Hair plastered to his skull, he snorts and catches his breath. Shakes. Gasps. Then starts swimming for shore.

Captain focuses as Scott prepares to throw a rock in to the water. When the stone’s in the air….
…Captain hurls himself off the dock and streaks through space. The rock is visible outlined against the sky. Moments later….
…. he vanishes with a splash in the water. Long seconds pass. Just when to onlookers wonder where he’s gone…
… he bursts from the deep like a Trident submarine.

Sometimes he’ll have the rock he was searching for in his mouth. Other times, well, it’s something quit different.

In his determination to dredge something, anything, from the bottom, Captain often surfaces with unusual items. Scott says, “he’ll dig along the bottom until he finds something. Sometimes it’s the rock I threw. Other times it’s an oyster. He’s found boat hold down straps, pieces of carpet, beer bottles, and the wheels off trailer jacks.” Scott lumps these random finds together as “environmental cleanup”.

Retrieved item clamped between his teeth, Captain will paddle ashore, eager to retrieve another item. Eventually, the diving effort takes its toll. If it’s cool, Deb and Scott will towel him dry and Captain hops on to a favorite chair for a snooze.

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