Gertie (the Permapup) and the Houston Herald's Doug Davison hang out together July 17 in Norfork Lake near Theodosia, Mo.

Gertie never needs any encouragement to submerge herself in a body of water.

It’s safe to say that swimming is in her top three favorite activities, along with going on walks and eating meat. So when the Permapup gets the rare opportunity to swim in two places in one day, we’re talking special occasion.

Such was the case a couple of weeks ago, when me and my daughter, Roxanne, took Gertie on a day trip that included stops at Norfork Lake, near Theodosia, and at Dawt Mill on the North Fork River (a.k.a the North Fork of the White River).

Once we made our way south from Texas County into Ozark County, we stopped first at a park on Norfork Lake, adjacent to the big U.S. 160 bridge. Moments after the F-150 came to a stop, Gertie was wet.

I got into the warm, clean water, too. Gertie motored back and forth, her tail sticking up behind her like a periscope.

She sang her own song like the classic, “Sailing Sailing.”

“Swimming, swimming all around the lake,” she said. “The water’s warm and I’m a dog and this is pretty great.”

Built on the North Fork River in Arkansas in the 1940s, Norfork Dam was one of the six largest concrete dams in the U.S. at its completion. Behind the dam, Norfork Lake covers 22,000 acres with 550-miles of shoreline and has a maximum depth of 178 feet.

The dam and its accompanying electric powerhouse cost more than $28 million to build – a huge sum of money back then.

“Yeah, maybe, but a lot of pro basketball players make that much in a year now,” Gertie said.

“Must be nice,” I said. “I’ll probably never see that much in my life.”

“Maybe they should build dams,” Gertie said. “Or great big dog parks with automatic dog biscuit and chew stick dispensers, and huge carpets to roll around on. No leashes required, of course.”

“I’ll suggest that next time I talk to LeBron James or Kevin Durant,” I said.

After we had a nice picnic on a table near the shoreline – and watched several water skiers and tubers go by behind powerboats – we packed up and headed for Dawt Mill, less than an hour away on the North Fork River, where it still runs with strong current well upstream from the dam.

Located just west of Highway PP near Tecumseh, Dawt Mill was originally established in 1866, and changed hands several times over the years, with multiple owners making improvements along the way. In 1995, the mill was purchased by Oklahoma native Dr. Ed Henegar, who was drawn to the Ozarks by the area’s natural beauty and lifestyle, and the type of people who live there.

Henegar was the only physician in Ozark County at the time and continued in that capacity for more than 20 years. He still owns and operates Dawt Mill resort, which features lodging, dining, retail and recreational facilities.

On the property is an extensive raised garden where crops are grown for use in the resort’s two restaurants. The garden’s lush beauty caught our attention.

“Maybe there’s some ripe sirloins,” Gertie said, licking her chops.

“Nope, those are out of season,” I said. “Permanently.”

“So what is growing in there?” Gertie asked.

“Looks to me like tomatoes, okra, kale, several kinds of beans and a bunch of other stuff,” I said. “Where’s the beef?” Gertie asked.

“Probably in there,” I said, pointing at the nearby Henegar’s Grist Mill Restaurant. “And I’m pretty sure no quadrupeds are allowed.”

After disappointing the dog yet again, we went down to the river where lots of people were fishing, swimming or just generally hanging out on the rocky shoreline of the North Fork River. Of course, Gertie walked straight toward the water’s edge and kept right on going.

The water was much colder – and very refreshing – due to the spring-fed nature of the stream.

“Ah, this is great,” Gertie said.

“Definitely,” I said. “Kind of chills the toes a bit.”

“Yeah, and kind of shivers the snout,” Gertie said. “And kind of frosts the fur and kind of ices the eyeballs.”

“A cornucopia of polar poetic prose you are,” I said.

“Just sayin’,” Gertie said.

In rivers, Gertie likes swimming upstream, and when the current’s just right, she sort of hovers in the same spot.

“Must…make it…to the bridge,” Gertie said.

“I’d say at this rate, you’ll get there by, well, about never,” I said.

“Throw me a rope!” Gertie said. “I can’t swim! Wait, never mind, I can swim just fine. And no thumbs, so…”

“I was gonna say,” I said. “You can’t grab a rope and I’m no cowboy, so I doubt I could lasso you.”

Maybe I’m no cowboy, but Gertie decided she was.

“I’d say there ain’t enough room for the both of us in this here river,” Gertie said. “One of us is gonna have to go, and I ain’t plannin’ on goin’ nowhere.”

“Listen here, slim,” I said. “We either make this situation work right about now, or thunder’s gonna roll from my holster and lightning’s gonna strike in your direction.”

“No thumbs,” Gertie said. “You win.”

On the way home, Gertie never moved a muscle as she slept in her box in the back seat of the extended cab F-150 (literally a cardboard box with a blanket folded up in it). She dreamed of swimming and sang in her dream.

“Swimming, swimming, I want to go again. The water’s fine and I’m a dog and pork chops sure are great.”

Dreams can sometimes go in strange directions.

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