Bruises reveal heroic story of woman who saved pug trapped in icy Beaver Lake

44-year-old real estate agent and mother of two young children ran past crowd of bundled-up onlookers and plunged into frozen lake.

It had been an unremarkable jog for Mary Brookes. She ran the 10-kilometre loop around Elk Lake and rounded the bend to the Beaver Lake parking lot Jan. 24.

Then she spotted a woman waist-high in the water.

Remnants of the previous week’s cold snap still lingered that morning – snow on the ground and ice on the lake’s surface. At first, Brookes assumed the middle-aged woman in the distance was practising some form of cold water therapy.

As she ran closer, Brookes saw a handful of people were gathered around the woman along with a small dog struggling to keep its head above water about 30 metres from the shoreline.

Without so much as a moment’s thought, Brookes – a 44-year-old real estate agent and mother of two young children – ran past the crowd of bundled-up onlookers and plunged into the frozen lake.

“People were saying: ‘(The dog owner) can’t swim! She can’t swim!’ And I thought: I can,” Brookes said. “I didn’t really think about it. I just kicked my runners off. It wasn’t even something I had to decide. That’s all I thought: ‘I can swim.’”

A former owner of a golden retriever, Brookes remains a dog lover. She was simply not willing to stand there and watch the animal die, she said.

Tethered to the group on shore via a rope thrown in her direction, the 5-foot-2 woman busted through the ice with her elbows and midriff until she reached Maggie, a fawn pug barely able to keep afloat.

“It got to the point where it was difficult to break the ice,” Brookes said.

“My feet were off of the ground, so I was lunging on it to break it.”

When she reached the exhausted animal, believed to have been chasing birds prior to falling through the ice, she placed it on her shoulder and struggled to swim back weighted down by her new passenger. She called for a tug. Between her efforts and those at the other end of the rope, Brookes landed back on the beach after nearly 15 minutes in the water.

Cold, cut and bruised, but without major injuries and in desperate need of a hot shower, Brookes assured the ambulance attendants who had arrived on the scene of her health and drove to her nearby home.

“All I kept thinking is: ‘Thank God I’m fit’ because when I got back, I was pooped.”

Maggie the pug received veterinarian care following the incident and is believed to be in good health. Her owners declined to be interviewed for this story.

Brookes doesn’t see her actions as particularly risky or outside what anyone would do in the situation. Still, her efforts were heroic enough for one of her friends to call the newspaper.

“She’s a lovely lady and she has such a passion for life,” said Andrea Volnik, who contacted the Saanich News  after seeing Brookes’ bruises and hearing the dramatic tale. “Not everyone would have done it and I can’t stop thinking about it. She’s a hero.”

nnorth@saanichnews.com

Just Posted

Deadline looming for youth transitional housing

Province says funding for 10 units not available at this time

Greater Victoria Public Library announces new music streaming service

Victoria Conservatory of Music to perform at Langford Heritage Branch on Saturday

Crews respond to homeless camp fire in View Royal

View Royal, Saanich and Colwood responding to two separate incidents on the Trans-Canada Highway

Harbour Authority signs up for green bus fleet

Agreement signed for 10-year partnership with new company

“This is not a drill:” test tsunami alarm sparks panic at elementary school

CFB Esquimalt issued apology for broadcasting wrong message

VIDEO: ‘Lyle the singing pig’ searching for home

SPCA say the pig is ‘not opera-ready’

JOCK TALK: Canada’s national cycling team is at Bear Mountain this weekend

Your weekly round up of all things sports on the West Shore

Search for missing B.C. man a race against winter weather

David Jeff of Williams Lake was last seen in Kamloops during the chaotic wildfire evacuations

Man steals police car, goes for a ‘slow’ ride

Mission RCMP say the motive of the theft is unknown

Dodgers punch ticket to World Series

This will be the first time the Los Angles Dodgers have made it to the World Series since 1988.

Surf group winning the war on plastic bags

The Tofino Co-op will no longer provide plastic bags, following in the footsteps of the Ucluelet location that already made the change earlier this year.

All three victims identified in Fernie arena ammonia leak

Wayne Hornquist and Lloyd Smith were from Fernie and Jason Podloski from Turner Valley, Alta

Having a Happy Halloween at Galey Farms

Galey Farms has become synonymous with Halloween on the Saanich Peninsula. The… Continue reading

B.C. woman plagued by bedbugs on airplane not surprising, says expert

Heather Szilagyi was on a British Airways flight when she noticed bedbugs crawling out of the seat

Most Read