Charlottetown man takes icy plunge to save dog

Jim Day
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Stephen Cudmore of Charlottetown enjoys a visit Thursday from Pace, an 11-year-old black lab. Cudmore jumped waist high in to frigid water Tuesday to rescue the dog after it had fallen through the ice and could not get out.

Stephen Cudmore is quick to share praise in rescue of black lab

Stephen Cudmore is the clear hero in this chilling dog rescue.

Yet the humble 49-year-old financial advisor is quick to deflect praise in what he views as a concerted effort to save Pace, an 11-year-old black lab.

Cudmore notes the family’s pet — a Portuguese water dog named Levi — was key to setting the rescue in motion.

On Tuesday afternoon, Levi started barking “in a very unusual way’’ inside the Cudmore home on Queen Elizabeth Drive in Charlottetown.

Cudmore’s daughter, Makena, 12, could see Levi was agitated and eager to get outside. So she went out into the backyard with the dog. Levi started yapping back and forth with another dog that was out of view.

Makena investigated. She came upon Pace in peril. The dog had fallen through the ice on the North River and could not get out. She rushed back into the house and called her father at his workplace.

“She was clearly very upset,’’ recalls Stephen. “I said ‘just hang on and I will be right there.’’’

When Stephen arrived at the icy scene, Pace appeared “just physically exhausted...and totally incapable of struggling anymore.’’

Stephen jumped into the cold, waist high water and hoisted Pace out. That was the easy part.

He then carried the soaking wet, 75-pound animal that had a collar of ice around its neck several hundred feet, navigating his way over large rocks and up an embankment on a day with a windchill hovering down around -23 C.

“All I know is it felt like a long way,’’ says Stephen. “I had to take a break half way across the yard.’’

A second daughter, Macy, gathered up blankets to cover the dog.

Stephen got changed and went out looking for Ralph, a border collie that is Pace’s long-time companion.

Ralph apparently had been trying to beckon help.

Ann MacNeill, who owns Ralph and Pace, says Ralph had returned to the home of MacNeill’s parents, where the pair of dogs often roam in the back yard.

MacNeill says Ralph was acting very strangely.

“She kept going back to the door and looking at them (MacNeill’s parents)...she knew there was something wrong,’’ she says.

Fortunately, Stephen had come to the rescue.

“Very selfless thing to do,’’ says MacNeill. “We are forever thankful for what he did for us.’’

Remarkably, Pace has emerged from the cold, potentially deadly mishap relatively unscathed. A team at the Charlottetown Veterinary Clinic worked to get the dog’s core temperature up and circulation going through the use of heating pads, warm blankets, even a blowdryer, and plenty of rubbing.

“Pace is great,’’ says MacNeill. “He was very, very tired that night. He did not move off the couch for a long time...(but) no after effects whatsoever.’’

On Thursday, Pace was bounding happily outside for a photo shot with his rescuer, Stephen Cudmore.

Stephen, who has never taken part in the traditional New Year’s Day celebratory Polar Bear dip, thought nothing of taking an icy plunge to save Pace. He says any short-term discomfort he experienced was inconsequential.

“I’ve done the Black lab swim and that may do just fine,’’ he quipped. “I’m sure the people that do the Polar Bear swim don’t have the same motivation (to plunge into icy cold water).’’

Helping save the life of a beloved pet, he notes, feels great. However, he would rather give, than receive, praise.

“I’m pretty proud of my daughters and pretty proud of my dog,’’ he says. “My job was fairly simple.’’

Organizations: Charlottetown Veterinary Clinic

Geographic location: Charlottetown, North River

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Recent comments

  • Sean Yeomans
    January 25, 2014 - 14:42

    I have the pleasure of knowing Steve and this doesn't surprise me. He is a very decent person.

  • breannah tweedie
    January 24, 2014 - 21:43

    Faith in humanity restored. You are a beautiful person. I would be beside my self if anything like this happened to my pup and no one stepped up like your self!

  • Dawn Teal
    January 24, 2014 - 15:39

    What a wonderful human being you must be. Thanks from our family.

  • Mike Cameron
    January 24, 2014 - 11:45

    Just Awesome Steve!!!! Thanks to you, your daughter and your dog! We need more like you all in this world!

  • Casper
    January 24, 2014 - 11:37

    This is truly beautiful, thank you for saving him.

  • Betty Begg
    January 24, 2014 - 11:05

    So much sadness in the news . This was a real treat to read . Father - Daughter's & Dog much thanks for bringing joy to others . May you warm many hearts with this wonderful story .

  • Ann
    January 24, 2014 - 09:41

    Amazing....absolutely amazing!!

  • Sheila guay
    January 24, 2014 - 09:22

    What a great "Hero" you are Stephen !!! What an awesome wonderful story !!!

  • Marie
    January 24, 2014 - 07:10

    Hats off to the Cudmore family...especially Stephen for braving the Black Lab Dip... I have added your name to my list of Heros!

  • Nancy Dunlay
    January 23, 2014 - 22:40

    I have known Stephen Cudmore since he was a young child. His selflessness does not surprise me as he is Douglas Cudmore's son. He is definitely a Hero in my book!

  • Coin
    January 23, 2014 - 21:30

    Very Best!!!

  • Ron Hartlen
    January 23, 2014 - 21:15


  • BooBoo's Mamma
    January 23, 2014 - 20:28

    This is a great story and it warmed my heart! You, Stephen have a "Heart of Gold" for saving Pace's life, obviously you care. You made my day!

  • verna mccloskey
    January 23, 2014 - 20:24

    Thank you for what you did.I am a dog lover,and you are my cousin.

  • Michael Gilbert
    January 23, 2014 - 19:54

    That was a wonderful act if kindness!! As a dog lover and owner , my hat goes off to you for saving a member of someone's family !!!

  • Heather
    January 23, 2014 - 18:49

    Great story , love the line I did the black lab swim , and a big thank you to Stephen from all us animal lovers out there.

  • angela
    January 23, 2014 - 18:20

    What an incredible story! Well done dad and daughters and family dog! This story just made my day! Proves animals are incredible and there's pretty remarkable people in our midst!

  • Greg C
    January 23, 2014 - 18:03

    Hats off to you Steve! Shows what an awesome person you are

  • Connie Doucette
    January 23, 2014 - 17:49

    What a wonderful heart this man has..... And he's obviously doing a wonderful job teaching his daughters kindness and compassion.... It's so good to know there are people like that out there :)

  • David Turner
    January 23, 2014 - 17:36

    Great Job Stephen. a lot of thankful people. well done

  • Willy Wonka
    January 23, 2014 - 17:06

    So shines a good deed in a weary world.