Friday, November 5, 2010
Dog meets beach
Despite all his (reluctant) "frequent flyer miles," Ben, our dog, has never been to the beach. He's been to rivers and lakes, wineries and country weddings and rehearsal dinners, jaunty sidewalk cafes, world-class urban parks -- but never the beach.
I'm not quite sure how we came to be so negligent. I mean, what dog doesn't love running along the beach, splashing in the foam-specked surf, chasing seabirds and rolling among dead fish carcasses?
The short answer.
Last Saturday was Ben's first trip to The Beach. The Mom Unit, The Miz and I decided to brave Oregon's frequently frivolous fall coastal weather and make a run down to the coast. The Miz graciously agreed to share the backseat with Ben.
It was destined to be an interesting day. This is a dog with a serious aversion to water (we trace it back to an unfortunate, excessively noisy experience with a jet ski when he was a puppy) and an obsessive-compulsive fixation with his feet. That part is a herding dog thing, so I've been told.
So off we went. First stop, Arch Cape -- beach of my childhood. To this day, a relatively undiscovered beach where most dogs lope along, off leash, foot loose and fancy free, chasing seabirds and biting at the waves.
Ben knew he was on sacred ground. Nostrils flaring, he pushed his way into the front seat before I had barely set the emergency brake.
He flew out of the car. The massive thickets of blackberry bushes flanking both sides of the path down to the beach met with his immediate approval, laden with scents only a dog could appreciate. And then he reached the end of the path.
Throwing us a brief, inscrutable glance, he clambered across the rocks to the sand. Rigid, in full alert, Ben's tail gave him away as he walked along the waterline and listened to the surf for the first time.
Ultimately, canine curiosity trumped caution. Ben stooped to sniff the briny surf.
Just as the tide surged, covering his feet with a foamy blanket of salt water.
We were rewarded with a lively dog's interpretation of The Funky Chicken as Ben hastily put it in reverse and beat a somewhat undignified retreat to dry land. Beach 1, dog 0.
Ben was intrigued. He sensed the wildness, the freedom of an empty beach scoured by wind and water. After a moment of two, he turned and began to run, chasing sticks and bird feathers, pouncing on crab shells, biting and nipping at the ropes of kelp I whipped back and forth through the sand.
And then he stopped for a minute. To laugh.