NEW CASTLE —
Joe Exposito’s routine walk with his four dogs Wednesday morning turned into an icy plunge and a struggle to survive.
The snow was melting and temperatures were in the high 20s. It was shortly after 9 a.m. as he and his canines set out from their Lyndal Street home for their usual walk.
They followed a pathway in Gaston Park where they often had been before. There is a fork in the path, and one way leads toward the Lawrence County Career and Technical Center. The other heads down a hill and toward a lake, which on Wednesday was iced over.
What happened next left Exposito no time to think.
Bella, his 6-year-old Jack Russell/Boston terrier mix, spotted a duck that had landed on the lake.
“We’re walking, the dogs about 10 to 15 feet ahead of me as usual, and, I hear, ‘quack, quack.’ When that duck moved, she was gone. I yelled, ‘No, no, no, no, no!’”
Loopy was behind her, then Bubba, then Dobby.
Bella is the mother of the other three dogs that all are from the same litter. Her pups have grown to be considerably larger than she, and each resembles a different breed.
Dobby, looks like a chocolate Lab, Bubba is black and white with long hair and a rounded snout, resembling an English Springer spaniel, and Loopy is black and white with shorter hair, similar to a Dalmatian.
Dobby stayed on shore, but as the other three dogs ventured onto the ice, Loopy led the way and it cracked under his 35-pound weight, Exposito said.
“Then Bella got out there and boom! She went down.”
Bubba also ended up in the water.
Bella treaded water and struggled to get out as Exposito rescued the larger two.
The water was about 10 feet deep, well over Exposito’s head. He took a few steps into the lake, then met a dropoff.
He had to break the ice with his hands and pounded on it to try to get to the dogs that were trying to get out of the icy water.