Dogs greet humans with unconditional love

August 16, 2011

I have to tell you I am a huge dog person; no matter what kind of dog, I’m a fan. And right now you see them all over the resort area, also on vacation with their humans for the summer. They strut down Rehoboth Avenue on their leashes, sometimes in their cool collars, smelling all the aromas from food vendors. And what beach doesn’t have that Lab chasing down a Frisbee or water toy? OK, wherever the hours permit.

The thing about dogs is they unconditionally live in the moment. And usually that moment is excitement and joy.  I especially love the way they greet you; it’s as if you told them they had just won the Publisher’s Clearinghouse Sweepstakes.

I don’t care if you’ve stepped out to pick up the mail for five seconds, dogs will still greet you as if they haven’t seen you in months and you have just returned from a yearlong round-the-world cruise.

Recently I drove up to New Jersey to visit some of the grandchildren. As soon as I pulled into the driveway, the two dogs bounded off the back porch and made a beeline for my car, circling it and panting as if it was a giant dog bone on wheels.

The golden retriever was sobbing and sobbing and attempting to throw her arms around me in a monstrous bear hug, like I wouldn’t notice all 150 pounds of her. Pinning someone in a hysterical reunion against the car is one of her specialties.

The giant black labrador, not to be outdone, was shoving a large orange rubber Frisbee at my face; all the while he attempted to strong-arm the retriever out of the way.

The excitement and carrying on reached a fever pitch; fortunately I was able to escape by fending them off with a couple of bottles of water. They like to grab anything, even though they could barely get the bottles of water into their jaws. It takes them awhile to figure out it’s not worth the ruse and they would rather have a real human to embrace. Don’t get me wrong, this is a sign of love, even though I was running for my life up the back steps and onto the porch, clutching my chest and whispering, “Good boys.”  I watch the Dog Whisperer a lot. I know, I don’t have a dog, but I enjoy the method acting and often will take the motto of Caesar, “Calm and Submissive,” beyond training a dog, like when I’m circling looking for a parking space.

You see, a dog lives in the moment. That dog bed that you bought at Pottery Barn, the one he just ripped to shreds, means nothing to him when no one is home and he is tired of watching ESPN. You can give a dog all the looks you want.  He will give you the look back; that is a nolo contendre your honor plea and basically allows the dog to go back to dreaming about thick T-bone steaks and the occasional pantyhose.

Now dogs at the beach have a special relationship. Sure, they love riding around in the convertible and hanging their head out of the car window, but many of them suffer from what’s known as opening the patio door withdrawal. This is when a dog normally would stare at the patio door and bark continuously to go outside. Once someone gets up and lets the dog out, a strange look will come over the dog, as if he is trying to remember exactly why he is standing on the back slab of cement. Naturally, within seconds, the dog will turn around and stare at the house and bark to come back in. This will go on for roughly 3,458 minutes a day.

Take this routine away from a dog and it becomes depressed and edgy and suffers from hot flashes. Many owners will make this worse, assuming throwing a ball on the beach when permitted will perk the dog up. Wrong. Most dogs simply are overcome by what humans are wearing at the beach and sink further into a depression. No, the best thing to do with a dog on vacation is go out and pretend you are getting the mail. Instant joy and hysterics will prevail. Unless it’s your own mailbox and is full of bills, well, that’s a whole other story.

Let the reunion begin.

  • Nancy Katz has a degree in creative writing and is the author of the book, "Notes from the Beach." She has written the column Around Town for the Cape Gazette for twenty years. Her style is satirical and deals with all aspects of living in a resort area on Delmarva.