Volume 23, Number 135, October/November 2020 The Day of the Pool Drama by Paula Brinehogan
The year 2019 will forever be remembered by my husband Ted and I as the year both he, and our two cats, slid into the bottom of our empty swimming pool on the very same day - and could not get out!
It was a very chilly Spring morning and our concrete swimming pool had just been re-painted. The beautiful sea-blue paint had now dried, and it looked marvellous and we were looking forward to refilling the pool with water, ready for the hot weather ahead. During the night it had rained a little and at least a foot of water had accumulated in the bottom of the pool.
At about 5a.m. I was awakened by a haunting and terrible wailing noise which I soon realized had to be coming from one of our two cats who, in good weather, preferred sleeping outside on their ‘special’ sofa. I flung myself, my heart pounding, out of bed and ran downstairs to see what had happened. I ran out of the sliding kitchen door to the back garden and was horrified to see my small, threeyear-old black and white cat “Samson” sitting in a strangely almost calm way in the water, right at the bottom of the pool (perhaps saving his energy, as who knows how long he had been there) - soaking wet and howling his head off!
My husband, who had followed downstairs after me said, “Don’t worry, I’ll get him out,” and stepped over the edge of the pool and attempted to walk somewhat gingerly down the steep slope towards the terrified cat. Unfortunately, what he did not know is that when one paints a swimming pool and the surface gets wet, it also gets incredibly slippery - and it’s worse than walking on ice. As I watched in amazement, my husband slithered immediately down to the deep end towards the trembling, howling cat and landed hard on his bottom, and into the large, cold puddle of water!
The cat immediately grabbed hold of my husband’s pyjamas with his sharp claws and clambered up to his shoulder where he held on tight, his claws digging into my husband’s skin which made him yell out in pain.
“Don’t worry, I’m alright,” Ted called up to me as I peered anxiously over the pool edge, and he started to try to walk up the slope with the cat clinging desperately to him with his relentless claws.
It was no use. The surface was so slippery Ted could not get any traction at all and he could not reach the sides of the pool to pull himself over the edge, so he and the clinging cat slipped back down into the water. With his pyjamas now wet and cold, Ted started to shiver which got me worried about him catching pneumonia if I somehow didn’t help to get him (and the cat) out of the pool as soon as possible.
Several times my husband attempted to climb back up again, but each time he slithered back down to the bottom of the pool. Eventually, after one of these slides, the cat somehow managed to spring up and launch himself violently sideways from the top of my husband’s head! He jumped onto the concrete and ran, wet and yowling, into the house. Unfortunately, this violent action kicked Ted backwards and he slithered down yet again into the cold water at the bottom of the pool, hitting his head on the side of the pool as he fell.
By now I was getting really worried - how was I going to get Ted out of this pool? By now he was shaking with cold and was also looking very pale, and I was alarmed to see that he looked quite frightened. I tried to remain calm and tried several times to pull him out using various pool poles, but they were not long enough. Then I tried by extending my arm down and grabbing his wrist and pulling hard, but I did not have enough strength to lift him up more than a few inches and he kept slithering and falling backwards down into the cold water, and by now he was shivering violently.
I suddenly remembered a long thick rope stored under a shelf in the pool hut, and after rummaging around for a few nervous minutes, I found it and ran back outside. I threw it into the pool and we each took an end and somehow I found the strength to pull my husband upward enough so that he could grab onto the side of the pool and very slowly inch his way upwards and crawl up and out of the pool.
Wet and shaking - his face chalk white - Ted ran into the house as quickly as he could, pulling off his pyjamas as he ran upstairs, stark naked, to have a hot shower and recover from his adventure. I settled down in the kitchen to have a cup of coffee and try to calm down after what had just happened.
About 15 minutes later, when I was
feeling a lot better, and relieved to have the incident come to such a happy ending, I suddenly heard a long, deep howling noise coming from outside of the house. With a feeling of absolute dread I walked outside and saw, to my utter disbelief, my large, twelve-year old red cat “Redders” right at the bottom of the pool, exactly where the other cat had been, frantically clawing at the sides and making the most dreadful sounds of terror.
I could not believe what I was seeing. For one tiny moment I actually considered calling Ted back downstairs again from his shower to help me get the terrified cat out of the pool, but then I realized that this was obviously not a good idea. It was going to be up to me to somehow get yet another terrified cat out of this slippery pool - and I had no idea how I was going to do it!
I watched the poor, frightened animal for a minute and realized that he was never going to get out by himself. I frantically tried to think of a way of rescuing him without endangering myself as well and then I suddenly remembered that I had stored an old rubbery car cover in the pool hut, and ran once again into the hut and grabbed the cover.
I lugged it outside, undoing the thin string around it, and threw the cover down to the bottom of the pool, spreading it out as wide as I could, up towards the shallow end. This action scared the poor cat as it billowed out around him, but he somehow suddenly realized that he could get traction on the rubbery cover and he desperately grabbed onto it with his sharp claws and quickly clambered up and over the edge of the pool and ran off into the garden.
I slowly walked over to a garden chair, and practically fell into it, not believing all the events that had just happened. What if Ted had knocked himself out when he fell into the water at the bottom of the pool? How on earth could I have got him out of there? If I had tried to walk down myself to try to pull him out, I would have surely slipped and both of us would have landed up in the bottom of the pool, trapped and unable to get out. This would not have been much help - and how long would it have been before someone heard our cries for help?
If I had called the fire department when Ted first fell, that would mean leaving him alone, at bottom of the pool, and a firefighter once told me that a person can drown in just a few inches of water. The back gate was closed and locked so I would have had to run inside the house, call the fire department, and then run outside again around to the front of the house to unlock the back gate so the firemen could get into the garden - all the while leaving Ted for several minutes in the pool alone, freezing cold and wet, and perhaps injured.
Since the day of the pool drama we have told this story to many friends and family at various social occasions and we have all laughed heartily at the craziness of what happened that day. Ted and I have often laughed about it ourselves, but we are also both very aware that the ending of this story could have been quite different.