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Bath dog floats down Kennebec River on chunk of ice nearly an hour before rescue

The Times Record | BDN
The Times Record | BDN
Harland Stanley shakes hands with Hoku after he and fellow Bath Iron Works security officer Sgt. Paul White rescued the dog Saturday morning, Jan. 12, 2013.
By Larry Grard, Times Record

BATH, Maine — Hoku knew just what to do Saturday morning as she floated down the Kennebec River on a small ice floe.

Sit and wait — until security officers from Bath Iron Works were able to rescue her.

The 1½-year-old black standard poodle was dry and unhurt after she lost contact with owner Dana Bartone, who had been walking the dog along the river behind the Plant Home.

Bath police Sgt. Paul White and Cpl. Harland Stanley took a security boat out to pick Hoku up, and she was no worse for the wear.

“We saw the dog sitting there on that small patch of ice like it was on a street corner, waiting for its owner,” White said Monday. “We let the boat come to a standstill, let it drift by her, and Harland took her by the leash, and called her, and she jumped aboard.”

An hour after Hoku drifted away, Bartone had her back.

“It’s a wonderful story that they were able to do this for us,” said Bartone’s wife, Maggie Limm. “It’s a miracle she didn’t fall off the ice. She was moving pretty quickly. She just sat down.”

Limm said Hoku was dry and fine when White and Stanley returned her to shore.

Hoku, which means “star” in Hawaiian, likes to explore near the river’s edge, Limm said.

“She’s quite adventurous,” she said. “He sometimes lets her off the leash there. He called her and he could see her tail wagging. Her tail was still wagging, but she was moving away from him.”

Limm said Bartone got close to Hoku and tried coaxing her to jump toward him. But the ice began to tip, and the dog knew better, Limm said.

As Hoku floated swiftly down the Kennebec, Limm said several people saw her.

Meanwhile, Bartone called a friend, Jon Sinibaldi, who works at Bath Iron Works.

Sinibaldi then called BIW security officers.

“She sat on her haunches the whole way out,” Limm said.

White said he took the call at around 9:30 a.m. He and Stanley launched the boat from the shipyard’s south gate.

“The good news is that the tide was bringing her in toward us,” he said. “She was about 250 feet from the dry dock.”

It took he and Stanley five or six minutes to get near the dog, White said.

“It worked very well,” he said. “She’s a well-behaved dog.”

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