The rules relax during autumn at the beach

October 1, 2013

We aren’t the only ones to welcome autumn at the beach. At the end of the month, a lot of rules will be relaxed. And dogs especially will be thrilled as they will be allowed back from their summer exile, at least in Rehoboth Beach. They are a welcome sight for many in the area.

I love to see those first-time-at-the-ocean canines race down to the waves, leap in, then turn around and race back out with a, “Holy crap, what was that?” expression on their face. They are not sure whether this is a giant dog water bowl that’s gone wild or the mother of all toilet bowls. In any case, they like it; the bold ones will try it again.

Still other canines will gingerly attempt to engage a wave or two in a game of psych-out, darting and challenging the slightest movement. Eventually they get tired and decide it’s just easier to harass the birds sunning themselves on the sand. Besides, it always makes them look important, especially if there is hot female Lab watching from a distance.

Dogs aren’t stupid; well, I have to say I’ve owned a few that weren’t up to that level of the bar. But dogs also know when you’ve been somewhere without them. And this is something they can’t understand. Not take them to the beach in the summer? Come on, man!

Dogs consider themselves very well behaved. They don’t cut in and out of traffic on Route 1. They never ride bicycles on the highway. They stop at all the crosswalks. They never run up a bill on the parking meters or get a ticket. So what’s the problem? OK, maybe they ate a few written prescriptions and stuff.

A dog can tell by the trail of sand you leave behind in the car and that pungent smell of the ocean wafting off your body when you return. Well, actually it’s more like Thrasher’s French fries and saltwater taffy. They know it’s just plain cruel not to take them down to the beach. They’ve had to content themselves with walking on the sidewalk during the summer. Yeah, that really is beachy. Come on, man!

Fortunately, a lot of dogs have short-term memory loss, though. They will turn their head, mull it over in one tiny lower section of their brain, which is not activated on a regular basis, and then shake it off with the thought, Oh yeah, I sort of remember something like that.

No matter how many times you take them on the boardwalk or down to the ocean, they always react like it’s the first time they’ve seen that expanse of water. Their only daily fun has been getting you to open and shut the patio door every five minutes. They bark on one side and you let them out. Then they bark on the other side and you let them in; they can keep this up until a group of Holsteins rings your doorbell and exclaims, “We’re home.”

I’ve noticed there is no baby talk at the beach either; large dogs despise the whole he’s a good boy or she’s a good girl chatter. They put up with it because they basically think you are operating on two brain cells anyway, at least according to Cesar Milan, the Dog Whisperer, who is the ultimate Alpha male. Here amongst Mother Nature’s best, it’s all pack commands. But the beach is a great equalizer. It’s a serenity setting that can’t be ignored. The sounds of the ocean, the smell of freshness and the tranquil sand all factor into letting go of that burden of fear and anxiety. Inventive kites are flying high in a whispering breeze. People walking alone seem untroubled. And even if it’s just for the moment, it seems to work.

And dogs love this because all is forgiven at the beach.

  • 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.

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