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Dogs at the beach – a recipe for fun

February 23, 2020

Mother Nature is a sly creature, especially when it comes to weather. First she’ll throw snowballs at you, then dump buckets of water on you and finally blow even the well-glued toupee down the street. And in a moment of remorse, in the midst of all of this, she’ll treat you to a beautiful, springlike sunny weekend. She’s counting on us forgetting her vengeance.

Many of us on those unseasonably warm days took the opportunity to go down to the beach, along with a mass migration of other onlookers. Not people, but dogs. They have a newfound freedom in the winter, no longer under a summer ban.

You normally wouldn’t think of them as an unusual sight, but the summer holds so many rules for them, a romp on the sand today is a welcome activity.

There were dogs in baby carriages, dogs wearing hoodies, dogs the size of a couch in a warehouse showroom, dogs as small as a mouse and dogs wearing designer accessories. They had on choke chains, body leashes, neck leashes and restraints. Now you don’t even have to bring the dog to the beach; I believe there is an app on your cellphone for it.

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 guacamole, what was that?” expression on their face. They are not sure whether the ocean is a giant container of water that’s gone wild or the mother of all toilet bowls. In any case, they like it; the bold ones will try it again. The best part of all is shaking the water off all over everyone.

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 a hot female Lab watching from a distance.

Dogs aren’t stupid. Although 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. They know that 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, like that’s really beachy. Come on, man!

Fortunately, a lot of dogs have short-term memory loss. They will turn their head, mull it over in one tiny lower section of their brain that 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 Holstein cows 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 good girl chatter. They put up with it because they basically think you are operating on two brain cells anyway. Here amongst Mother Nature’s best, it’s all pack commands. And everyone gets along.

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, 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. And that forgiveness includes rug stains, chewed shoes and upholstery ripped apart. Come on, man, dogs rock 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.