Chicago: Swimming (Outdoors) in March?

It had been another cold winter in the Windy city.  My freshmen year at Moody Bible Institute was winding down.  It had been a good year, full of challenges, new opportunities, and lots of new friends.  One of those new friends was an English bulldog named Gunther.  I didn’t need lots of money while in school – just a few bucks a week to eat out the one meal that food service didn’t provide.  I stumbled across this part time job, 3 hours a week at $6/hour = $18 per week, walking my new friend Gunther.  We would walk north a couple of blocks to Lincoln Park with lots of room for dogs to be dogs and walk and run.  It was fun until Gunther forgot what time of year it was.

March in Chicago is still very wintry.  Piles of snow, dirty streets, frozen ponds and lakes – that’s March in Chicago.  As Gunther and I walked through Lincoln Park, we got to the pond just south of Lincoln Park Zoo.  We would always walk around the pond and enjoy its frozen beauty and even occasionally “ice-skating” on it in January or February.  But March . . . walking on frozen ponds in March in Chicago is a risky proposition but not to my friend Gunther.  We were walking around the pond when Gunther stopped, started sniffing near the edge of the pond, and then proceeded to launch himself onto the ice!  The only problem:  it was March and the ice was thinning and my stupid English bulldog friend Gunther went THROUGH the ice!  I thought I was dead.  I grabbed his choke chain and choked him up through the ice and on to terra firma and yelled at him for his dog-like ways!  He looked at me with this nonplussed expression like I was an idiot for yelling at him for his dog-like ways (I was an idiot – dogs have dog-like ways) and proceeded to shake off all of the water and go about his walk.

He didn’t catch pneumonia; he didn’t die; I just learned my lesson:  when on a walk with my friend Gunther in March near the pond in Lincoln Park Zoo, give him a lot less leash on his choke chain!

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