Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Beach Dogs

Dogs live the sweet life, don’t they? Always concerned with their pursuit of pleasure, they exemplify the “appreciate the small stuff” mentality that I crave. But which dogs have the best life of all? Beach dogs.

Sitting on a beach clears my head more than anything else I can think of. I love to go out early before the crowds appear, when it is still quiet and there are more seagulls than people. Something about the raw energy of the waves wipes everything away – the petty stresses of everyday life, the monotony of our daily routines – and makes me prioritize and refocus.

A dog on the beach is almost redundant, the ultimate pleasure-seeker in the ultimate cathartic location. And you can’t help but feel happy watching a dog on the beach. They jump in the waves, roll in the sand, lie in the shade of beach umbrellas. They don’t have stressful lives to forget.

This week a couple down the beach from us brought their boxer and a football. The man and woman threw the ball back and forth, the dog running after it each time, until one of them finally missed and the dog grabbed it in her mouth. She ran probably 50 yards before the man caught her and they both ran back into the water. Later they brought out a white ball just for her, and she swam far out into the waves to retrieve it every time. I wasn’t as relaxed watching this – I never am – I’m always afraid they’ll throw the ball too far and the dog won’t be able to swim back. The dog always looks so helpless, a tiny head holding strong above the rough water, appearing between breaking waves until it can finally stand again, shake off, and chase the ball out again.

In Hawaii a few years ago, I watched a dog play catch with the ocean, unaided by any human. The dog sat on a section of beach that rose higher than the water, creating a slope to the waves. The dog sat atop its little hill, released his ball from his mouth, and it rolled down the sand until the waves brought it back to him again. He did this over and over while I watched from my little area on the sand. Smart dog.

George didn’t get to go to the beach with us this week – instead he stayed at our vet where we were promised by a lady in scrubs that he would get to go outside 6-8 times per day. But a few years ago, we did take George to the beach for a day. We left early in the morning and drove to Laguna, had about six hours and lunch on the beach, had dinner at an outdoor place, then drove home. It was fun seeing George experience the beach. He loved being out and sniffing all the smells, but he could have cared less about the ocean itself. He got his feet wet but didn’t care to get in the waves like other dogs. Maybe we should have demonstrated? George’s favorite part of the day was lying on a beach chair under our umbrella. Of course he didn’t lie on the sand – he wanted the chair. Smart dog.

This week we resume our normal lives, but I hope to keep a bit of the beach vibe with me as long as possible. I’ll print out some vacation photos, wear a seashell necklace, and give George an extra pat on the head as he looks up at me expectantly. After all, he is a beach bum at heart. All dogs are, don’t you think?


  1. I always enjoy your stories so much, Shannon. Wish I'd seen the dogs that day, but still I feel as though I did thanks to your excellent narrative. Thanks so much!

  2. I loved this piece, Shannon. It brought back memories of taking Henry (our rat terrier) to the beach for the first time. How he loved digging in the sand! Like George, he didn't care much for the water. Keep writing; many look forward to your weekly entry!