Published on September 15, 2020
Gator Fat Albert didn’t want to tangle with George Mutt
By Jan Edwards
“It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.” – Mark Twain
Roy and I have been blessed with several outstanding pets. I guess our favorite will always be George Mutt, our adventurer.
You’ve “met” him earlier in one of my columns. I like writing about our adventures with him – some of them have even been published in the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” dog series books. From time to time, I’ll be sharing some of the better pet stories with you. And just so you’ll know, the stories are from real events. This is a George Mutt story.
George Mutt loved adventure, and we, his “parents”, loved canoing. George also loved being on the water – he had a Labrador Retriever’s soul with a Yorkie body. So it was easy to put George in a life jacket and take him along on our canoe adventures.
With not much time one day, we decided on a day trip to Armand Bayou. On an earlier trip, Roy had seen an exceptionally beautiful, large buck near an oil company tank farm on the bayou across from the nature preserve that it ran through.
Camera in hand, we thought we’d go out, locate the buck again and capture his image for posterity. So, with Roy paddling stern and me paddling bow, George contentedly scanned the banks of the bayou from my lap as we embarked on our adventure.
It had been a wet, cool spring, and George’s dives into - and returns from - the bayou left both George and me wet and muddy, but we were having fun. We paddled some distance, and just before we reached the tank farm where Roy had seen the buck, the bayou necked down.
“O.K., now let’s start ‘sneaking’ the right-hand bank, so we don’t scare the buck,” Roy suggested. We didn’t want to startle the buck into running off before we had a chance to get his picture, and we were half afraid that if George saw the deer, he would jump out of the boat, and the chase would be on. We figured if we “sneaked” the opposite bank, maybe the deer would remain out in the open and George would stay in the canoe - or we could at least catch him in the water before he hit the opposite bank. That was the plan, anyway.
We paddled past the last bend in the bayou before the tank farm and were edging along the right bank, just inches away from land. There was no deer in sight on the left bank, and we were totally absorbed in trying to locate it. I halfway noticed a gray clay hill on the right bank as we approached it. George was blissfully sleeping in my lap, tired out from his swimming sessions. My paddle touched the bank and … the earth moved. In a split second, the hill turned into a 10-foot alligator that locals had nicknamed “Fat Albert”. His massive, tooth-filled head had swung around, staring at us up close and hissing his annoyance.
George, feeling me recoil in fright, sprang into action to protect me. We’d been paddling this bayou for a couple of years, and Roy had told me about this legendary gator. But since I had never seen him, even when we went looking for him, I thought he was just that – a legend. Today, George protected his family and leaped from my lap towards the gator’s open mouth. I screamed “NO!!!” and snatched George by the nape of his neck out of thin air, mid-leap.
How our actions did not turn the boat over, I’ll never know. I guess we knew subconsciously that, if we turned it over, we were “done for”. George was in a huff - not being able to attack our foe - but valiantly barked at the hissing alligator. “Fat Albert”, on the other hand, was annoyed by being awakened from his nap. Tired of having his sensibilities disturbed by a yapping snack, he took one last piercing look at us, rolled down to the bottom of the bank and plunged into the bayou – swimming away directly under our canoe.
When I asked Roy what we should do, he said, “Nothing, don’t do a thing – and don’t paddle.” No problem. Both of us were prepared to brace the canoe if the gator tried to turn us over, but we watched in nervous silence as the bubble stream of the gator bisected our canoe’s position and traveled upstream.
It took a couple of minutes, but when we recovered from our scare, we took note of what George was doing.
(Write Jan in care of The Bulletin. Email: email@example.com. Snail mail: The Bulletin, PO Box 2426, Angleton TX, 77516.)