Anonymom came up with that title for this photo. We’ve had a lot of fun this summer at dog beach. After well over a dozen visits, we’ve learned a few things.
• Nell enjoys socializing with other dogs, but can be childish and (I admit) probably annoying to other dogs. There’s no nipping or anything, but as other dogs are fetching tennis balls… Nell is fetching the other dogs, cornering them in the lake. (Does Lake Michigan have corners?)
• We’ve followed Greyhounds Only’s suggestion that we keep her muzzle on while she’s off leash. Well, mostly; we skip it when there aren’t any little dogs on the beach. After all, there’s always a 1% chance that a speedy Chihuahua will look like a mechanical rabbit.
• Which leads to the next thing we’ve learned: timing. It’s everything, and arriving at dog beach by 8 a.m. rewards us with cooler temps, a shimmering silver lake… and way fewer dogs. The pups that do show up around that time tend to be big, friendly and non-aggressive. Perhaps it’s my imagination but I think that earlier hour is indicative of the owner having a different level of commitment, and it translates to all areas of their relationship. The results are better-behaved dogs, and that’s more fun. Nell doesn’t care how many dogs there are. To her it’s just more empty shoreline for sprinting.
• And does she sprint. We’ve known about the steel pin in her leg since the outset – the result of shredding a large ligament that ended her “career”. Because of that, we’ve learned to keep the visits to dog beach short, sweet and frequent. 15 to 20 minutes wears her out (sprinkled with a couple 35 mph bursts) but it prevents her from limping around the rest of the day.
As she flies in a blur past chocolate Labs, Weimeraners and Cocka-poopydoodles, I wonder if our girl – long after her final race, long after the last night in a noisy cage, and two years after an industry broke her body and threw her away – feels a glimmer of joy knowing that after all of that, she’s still twice as fast as anything else that sets foot on the beach.
More importantly, I hope she knows she’d be loved just as much if she had no legs at all.