I PUT on hubby's favourite white shirt and walked out the front to give my children and husband a kiss goodbye.
In tow was our 7 month old Aussie Bulldog 'Nudge' affectionately known as 'Nudgey Wudgey Woo Woo' or 'Woo' for short.
Hubby was dropping the kids to school, then off to a yoga class.
As he pulled out of the drive way hubby said 'Don't get my shirt dirty.'
I laughed before replying 'I'm only going to take the dogs for a walk.' Hubby gave me the be careful look.
I had an hour and a half till I had to be at work so I decided I would take 'Nudge' and my neighbour's old Labrador 'Kyah' for a walk and a play on the open field in the next estate.
Then sun was shining; it had been raining heavily on and off over the last four days and the dogs had been missing their usual walks.
Nudge and Kyah were eager and began to run towards the bridge which led to the other estate.
They slowed down momentarily on the bridge to look down.
The creek was noticeably higher and the once clear and calm water was now a fast flowing mud bath.
The dogs quickly got back on track knowing the field was nearing.
Three sides of the acre sized field are surrounded by a mix of scrub and large trees followed by a steep embankment down to the creek.
The fourth side was adjoined to the road by a large grassy hill. Many of the neighbourhood dogs enjoy leash free time there.
Nudge and Kyah sat at the top of the grassy hill wagging their tails impatiently as I took their leashes off.
We all ran down the hill together landing in the sloshy grass.
My bare feet were covered in water and slashed grass which was actually quite nice to walk in.
The dogs did not care about the state of the field either.
They frolicked around and explored the perimeters looking back to check that I was still nearby.
If they wandered a little too far I whistled and they came running back to my side.
Admittedly Nudge had a few stubborn moments where he was slow to return but he soon realised that Kyah was not by his side when I whistled which hurried him along.
After about 15 minutes of free play Kyah was starting to look weary so we started to head back.
We were approaching the hill when Nudge decided to have a wander down at a track that we usually take.
I had avoided this track on purpose due to all the rain.
I knew it would be slippery and I was aware that the water would be dangerous.
I was whistling to Nudge with increasing urgency as he was nearing the steep banks.
Nudge was in his own world.
I had to change plan as he was clearly not paying any attention to me.
In attempt to get his attention I walked to the top of the grass hill with Kyah and put Kyah on her lead and began to walk in the direction of home whilst calling Nudge in a playful tone.
Nudge was having too much fun exploring and I was getting more and more concerned.
I knew I needed to try another approach. Kyah and I walked down the hill in attempt to catch him.
I changed to a serious tone in hope that Nudge sensed my fear.
Nudge continued to explore at the top of the bank, slowly he tried to edge his way down closer to the water.
That's when I lost sight of him.
As I looked over the edge I saw Nudgey's face staring up at me in fright.
His body was under water but thankfully his weight was supported by the long leaves of the plant that looked like he had pushed into the water as he slid down the embankment.
Kyah waited patiently at the top whilst I scrambled my way down the embankment clutching to anything I could grab. I was an inch from Nudgey's collar; I urged him towards me and managed to get hold of his collar.
Nudgey being a bulldog has a large neck meaning that his collar could easily come off over his head if I was to pull on it.
Being mindful of this I strategically tried to angle him sideways as I lifted.
Trying to lift 25kgs up a steep muddy embankment was proving difficult.
I noticed that 30cm beside me was a slightly flatter spot.
Nudgey was still being supported by the long leaves at this stage so I positioned and secured myself at the flatter spot.
Nudge paddled towards me and I grabbed hold of his collar.
There must have been no gradual decent as Nudge was unable to place his paw anywhere to help me pull him out.
Nudge realised that we were not making any progress and pulled away from me.
He began to swim to the other side of the creek searching for a place to climb out.
Realising his task was impossible as the water was flowing too fast he turned back to the other bank.
I watched helplessly as the water swept him down the creek.
I began to sob loudly as I knew his chances of survival were slim.
I did not know whether to watch him to see where he ended up or to try and run ahead of him by cutting across the field and hopefully catching him as he swam by.
I climbed back up the embankment trying to weigh up my options.
I looked ahead and noticed that a large tree had fallen across the creek and with the recent heavy rain many logs, branches and debris had created a wall.
I decided to watch Nudgey swim whilst making my way towards the fallen tree.
Kyah was unsure how to help and was becoming panicky. I tied her to a tree to keep her from attempting to rescue her best friend.
Carefully I navigated along the top of the muddy embankment rather than taking the track nearby so I didn't lose sight of my boy.
All I could do was hope that he was able to climb up on one of the branches until I could reach him.
I held my breath as Nudgey hit the wall of branches 10 metres ahead of me.
His head was still above water but I could see that he was wearing out quickly.
The water was pushing against him hard and the flow was trying to pull him under.
There it was, the moment I feared most. His head went under as I sobbed madly calling out his name.
Then I caught a glimpse of his head, fleetingly renewing my hope before he went back under.
The water flow was relentless and I knew that Nudge didn't have much fight left in him.
With slight relief I saw his head rise above the water again.
Yet in my heart I just did not want him to suffer, so as his head was pulled under again all I could hope for was that his death was as quick as possible.
I held my breath as I waited for the outcome and wondered how I would tell my children their Nudgey Wudgey Woo Woo was gone.
I began to sob louder as each second passed without sighting my boy.
All I could see was the turbulent water not even caring that it had taken my boy.
I was hysterical by now and knew I needed help to retrieve his body.
I made my way back to Kyah as quick as I could and began to run home for help.
As I was running towards the road a lady called out 'are you okay?'
I threw Kyah's lead towards her and yelled 'my dog is in the creek, can you hold Kyah?'
Completely unsure of how to approach the situation I haphazardly made my way towards the embankment.
Before I knew it the lady was handing me Kyah's lead and said 'where is he?'
I pointed towards the fallen tree and said I think he is gone. The lady was gone in a flash.
Relief washed over me as she took charge; I allowed myself to sob openly again as I made my way towards the fallen tree.
This time taking the track putting me in a better position to help the lady if need be.
I heard her call out 'I have him.'
Expecting her to follow with the bad news I braced myself as I asked 'is he alive?'
The words 'yes he is alive, he is okay' washed over me, giving me the focus I needed to function in a rational manner.
Looking for a track down to the fallen tree was impossible; it was a web of greenery.
I tied a confused and distresses Kyah up and then noticed the lady's thongs in the bush.
I realised that she had forced her way through a non-existent track bare foot.
Amazed at her selflessness I pushed the bushes aside and broke small branches to make my way down.
I caught sight of the lady waist deep in the fast flowing mud bath hanging on to my exhausted and petrified boy.
I then noticed that she had a cute cat eared lace headband on, a nice top on and hair and make-up down.
I began thanking her profusely; not only had she risked injury or her life to save my dog but she did so without thinking twice about where ever she had to be.
Relief washed over me knowing that she had the ability, confidence and emotional control on her side.
I knew I had to just follow her lead now. I asked 'what do you need me to do?'
She requested a rope as she needed help to climb up with Nudge.
I had Nudge's lead with me and she decided that would be fine.
The lady gave me step by step instructions on how to make it down towards her.
However when I got there I wasn't much assistance as I could not pull Nudgey by his collar or reach down to help without falling forward.
The lady amazingly lifted Nudge bit by bit from beneath him as she edged her way up the muddy embankment.
I cleared the path ahead in attempt to make it easier as I stayed close by encouraging Nudgey to assist but he was a dead weight stilled by complete distress.
When we reached the top I quickly clipped Nudgey's lead on and patted him gently.
I needed to know his rescuers name, so I initiated pleasantries.
I then asked Miranda if I could give her a muddy hug. I knew I a hug was not enough to say thank you but it was all I could do in that moment.
When she saw me running out of the bushes she knew she needed to help but had no idea what with.
Miranda's actions were nothing short of impressive.
From the moment she decided that someone might need her help all the way through to our muddy walk out of bush where she comforted me by empathetically letting me know that it's normal to not be able to think straight when a loved one is in danger.
Miranda was humble and my family will be forever grateful.
Nudge was in shock and was acting quiet peculiar when we got home.
He would not allow me to get too close to him.
I tried to get him into his bath which he normally does with ease.
Accepting that he may be fearful of any body of water now I decided to try and shower him.
To my surprise he allowed me to wash him.
Once he was all clean and dry I laid him on his bed with his teddy and patted him.
Hubby came home from yoga as I was leaving for work; thankfully it was his RDO and he was able to keep an eye on him all day.
After work I went shopping for a gift for Miranda and Nudge.
Miranda received my gift with gratitude however she claimed it was not necessary while down playing her act of kindness, strength and bravery.
I bought Nudgey Wudgey Woo Woo a big teddy to cuddle and when I got home he snuggled in to the teddy and me and would not leave my side.
Eventually falling asleep in my bedroom away from his usual sleeping spot near the side door.
In the evening hubby noticed his favourite white shirt resembling a muddy rag in the sink and looked at me confused. I was yet to elaborate on this morning's drama therefor he was unable to see how I could get his shirt so muddy.
As I told the story hubby's concern lied only within mine and Nudgey's welfare now as we adjust back to ourselves.
I am thinking that white shirts just invite trouble; I will never walk the dogs in one again.
Today I was reminded that there are living angels in this world and I have been lucky enough to encounter one!
Thank you Miranda!