Get Out!

I’ve been unable to be more than just a competent pet-parent the last several weeks. It pains me watching both our pups, mostly Samantha, spend hour after hour, day after day sitting in the basement with me as I remain unable to even walk them. Oh, I let ’em out back into our adequately sized fenced back yard multiple times every day. Scamper can’t, well, scamper fast enough to get back in after he pees. His largely-blind, seven pound aging body stumbles its way from the grass to the sidewalk to the patio. Then he bangs around a little like a pinball from chair to tiny beer fridge to puffy dog bed to patio support pole and finally to me waiting with an open door to let him back in. Samantha, on the other hand, makes her rounds barking and chasing everything possible as she patrols the four corners of the fence. Deer, squirrels, fox, neighbors walking their dogs on the trail across the creek. Within ten-fifteen minutes she’s back at the door banging to get back in. Yet does she really want back in?

Often within a few minutes of bounding back inside Samantha returns to the door and begins tapping on the bells hanging from the door, her signal to us she wants out. Yet she just came in?!?! I crutch over and let her back out. She slinks back out and immediately turns around to look at me. I open the door and let her in. She immediately rings the bells and wants back out, gets out, turns around and repeats. She wants me out with her. Clearly. Yet I’m of no use to her outside. It’s winter; I’m unable to sit for long periods to throw the ball. I’m unable to walk around the mushy yard to engage her. I’m unable to throw her leash around her and get her around the block. AWeb to the rescue.

AWeb’s been a hero getting me out every weekend. Sometimes just for coffee. Sometimes for several hours of errands. Sometimes (until winter hit) a trip to the park. Almost always parts of the outings involve the dogs. Recently she outdid herself beyond all my expectations. I had been researching locations for a possible spring trip that would accommodate all of us, mentioning several places in passing and focusing on a couple close by. Without warning we woke up a recent Saturday and within an hour she said let’s load ’em up, we’re taking a little trip.

I mapped out a route that would take us across the awesome Bay Bridge to reach the islands bordering the eastern shore. We pulled into the island town of Stevensville and work our way to the dog park. Happy to be done with the drive and the inevitable traffic at the bridge we all bounded out of the car to the gate. I crutched to a bench in the sun (it’s winter after all) and bundled up to sit for awhile until we made our way to the final destination: the dog beach! That’s right–this trip was about getting the pups out to an off leash dog beach along the Chesapeake Bay. We were the only ones in this section of the sizable dog park so the pups made their way to the community balls, bowls and smells.

I pulled up the maps to find out the walking directions down the path to the beach and immediately knew something was off. I had mapped us to a dog park in a town relatively far from the actual destination. No matter. We made ourselves at home for then headed down the trail for a while before loading up and finishing the trip.

Crossing back over the bridge we made the turn north finally pulling into Downs Memorial Park, right on The Bay. At almost 240 acres of recreational fun it was even enjoyable to drive through. Finally we made our way to the parking lot of the dog beach, approximately 200 meters to crutch to cold water fun! One final obstacle for me and Scamper—a serious set of steps down to the beach. AWeb pulled him out of his buggy and I extremely carefully made my way down.

Not one to choose to be disappointed when it comes to the dogs I acknowledged this wasn’t what I’d envisioned but we made the most of it. At no more than seventy-five feet wide and twenty five feet deep this was not the type of dog-friendly beaches we’d found in Florida. I know, I know….we’re not in Florida anymore. Pups didn’t mind. Samantha jumped right into the cold bay water, fetching anything we’d throw. Between fetches she chased down a couple other pups that were in the area, came crashing out of the water and hopped up next to me on a sharp rock bed, hopped back down to chase another dog and land back in the water. Perfection for her. Happiness for us.

By the time we made it home it was reaching the far end of dusk. A better winter day I’d be hard pressed to create. Outdoors, new places, new faces, exhausted pups. Once again my partner becomes my hero.

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