Local News

Nelson, the dachshund, welcomed home after island adventure in Ottawa

Fire department, river rescue, Heritage Harbor assist in rescue effort

It’s difficult to imagine an 18-pound black dachshund paddling itself across the Illinois River to an island in the center of the waterway, but that’s seemingly what happened when Nelson got spooked during a home construction project and ran away from the west side Ottawa home.

Michelle Bain and her husband, Brad, were in the middle of their home renovation project as a result of damage from last year’s derecho. The Bains had a piece of wood blocking the entrance that must not have been put back properly and Nelson snuck through.

“The one lead we got was from a phone call down at an open field by Island Avenue and we think he just kept running because he got nervous,” Michelle said.

Michelle said Nelson went missing Sept. 24 and returned home Oct. 23; much of his time away was spent on Hitt Island in the center of the Illinois River, and they think he swam all the way out there.

Brad thought it was a cat on the island until he got his binoculars and took a picture they could zoom in on.

“Then we had the Ottawa Fire Department and the Ottawa River Rescue out but the day we found him was the day my husband went out with Heritage Harbor,” Michelle said. “The guy from Heritage Harbor ended up staying on the boat so Brad could go off to look by himself. He just laid down on the ground and started talking to him and Nelson started coming closer and closer.”

Nelson was taken to the vet and given a clean bill of health beyond losing a few pounds and having white gums, but Michelle said the white gums probably came from whatever he was eating to survive.

Nelson is now hanging out at home with Brad and Michelle, their kids and his brother, Remi, just in time to celebrate his fourth birthday on Oct. 30.

“Everyone should know how helpful the Ottawa Fire Department, the River Rescue and Heritage Harbor were to us,” Michelle said. “Everyone pitched in to help us save Nelson.”