Rescue Tales: The Double Dip

Jess Craigie wants you to know, first and foremost, that she understands and respects the city’s leash laws. Jess also wants you to know that she likes and respects seagulls as much as she likes dogs, and if her dog Moxie had stood even the remotest chance of catching a seagull that beautiful, Spring morning, she wouldn’t have let Moxie off her leash to chase after them.

Jess Craigie wants you to know that she knows her way around a body of water. She has been a swimmer, a lifeguard, a surfer and a scuba diver. Jess also studied Marine Biology and worked for many years as a marine biologist.

She wants you to you to know that when Moxie, her attention on the flying birds, ran off the end of the North Avenue pier last May and plunged into Lake Michigan’s icy cold waters, Jess, ever the scientist, did in fact think things out:

Jess Craigie’s quick mental checklist:

• Moxie, with her slight, sight-hound’s build, couldn’t swim and had neither fur nor body fat enough to keep her alive for long in Lake Michigan’s 50-degree waters.
• Though Jess couldn’t swim the hundred yards back to shore with her bum arm, she knew she’d be able to hold on to a pipe she saw sticking out of the pier long enough to keep herself and her dog alive until help came (Moxie, she knew, would stand on her shoulders as she had often done before).
• The helpful stranger who also happened to be out on the pier could use Jess’s phone to call for help.

Jess Craigie wants you to know that when she decided to dive into Lake Michigan’s icy waters to save Moxie she never for a moment considered whether Moxie loved Jess the way Jess loves Moxie, or whether dogs as a species can experience love any more capably than human beings can define it – and that the question (Tribune columnists’ opinions on the matter notwithstanding) remains irrelevant to the conversation.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Jess Craigie last May and I want you to know that Jess is not a sociopath, and that when she, in a moment of Spring reverie (perhaps savoring her life after a near death experience involving a run-in with a pregnant, four-hundred-pound dolphin, the reason for the bum arm) suffered a momentary lapse of judgment and let Moxie off her leash to chase seagulls on the pier last May, she was acting like many other animal lovers might.

Jess’s husband Willson Craigie would like you to know that his wife’s compassion is a force to be reckoned with. He’d like you to know that when Jess decides to do something, whether it’s rescuing the little stray Moxie from a highway median in Belize (the first time) or rescuing Moxie from the icy waters of Lake Michigan (the second time), it’s best not to stand in her way.

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