I'll start this post with an enormous caveat for my snow-and-ice trapped friends in the North -- you won't want to read this. It will feel like salt or lemon juice pouring into wound or a paper cut. Okay, now read at your own risk and do not hold it against me!
Yesterday was one of those gorgeous days just bursting with the promise of spring and the warmth of summer. Sunny, warm, with a lapis lazuli blue sky and a freshness that hints at life stirring again beneath the damp soil. I headed to the beach with Petey, my camera and a quickly shed heavy sweater.
Petey ran past a saltwater-damp Newfoundland on his way down the boardwalk to do a big prancing pony circle on the sand, surveying the beach goers for someone to play with. Unfortunately, he set his knobby head on a pair sitting in beach chairs, reading books and the newspaper. He dropped his ball politely in front of the woman who looked up from her Kindle, frowned and kicked the ball away. Problem. He was now engaged in a game, unbeknownst to the grumpy couple. He moved to the side of the newspaper reading man and dropped his sandy ball next to him. At least the man obliged by tossing it. At that point, a couple rode up on their bikes, a woman I've met from my knitting group down here who has two Cairn terriers of her own, both rescues. We lured Petey away from the grumpy couple and my new friends got a good healthy dose of terrier for the next twenty minutes or so.
Petey's next target? A bag on a little spit of sand between the ebbing tidal pool and the ocean. I ran after him, knowing his preference for leaving a pee-mail on anything vertical. Fortunately, I had nothing to worry about. Instead, I chatted with a young woman while her father flung tennis balls far out into the ocean for their year-old Labradoodle named Sophie. She would bunny hop out over the shallow breakers -- the ocean was quite calm -- and found most all of the balls. Since tennis balls are Petey's drug of choice, I was pleased that he ignored them. The same can't be said for Sophie, she took quite a liking to Petey and tried to engage him in play, much to her owner's chagrin. Eventually, she lost her focus on the tennis balls and several were abandoned at sea. By now, Petey had charmed a lady visiting from Atlanta who started tossing his ball into the shallow waves. Happy for the excuse to rid himself of the remnants of his Olive Fruit Nourishing Shampoo bath, Petey dashed back and forth from sea to shore. Often with Sophie dancing around him.
Frustrated by the distraction of the handsome blonde fellow from New York, Sophie's owner moved them (and his damp alligator loafers!) further down the beach.
And that's when we met Sofia and her new puppy Chewie (after Chewbacca!).
Chewie was a rescue, believed to be a mix of Cairn and Border terriers though he has a bit of an underbite so I think there may be some Chihuahua or Pug in the DNA soup. Chewie has yet to learn to chase and fetch a ball, but he sure liked chasing Petey. It was Chewie's first time off leash and his owners were a bit nervous, as they've only owned him for a month. He was a very jolly little fellow, giving chase to bigger dogs with his big bark, but always coming back to see what I was up to.
This photo is one of those "happy accidents." My favorite kind of portrait.
Sofia was a quick study -- Petey had her throwing the ball non-stop in no time.
Watching and learning the game.
He'd give it a sniff, but no real interest in the ball. Just in Petey.
This happy dog came galloping up but once he saw that Petey and Chewie were preoccupied, he loped along on his way.
Nirvana! The many tennis balls that Sophie's owner had lobbed into the ocean, that she'd lost sight of in the waves and abandoned, were now gently washing into shore. Petey then has what I've come to refer to as his "Sophie's Choice" moment—the agony of realizing he can only choose one ball! Ironic that this motherlode had come courtesy of a dog named Sophie.
My bold man even swam out to retrieve a couple of these fuzzy ingots.
So many tennis balls, so little time...(and alas! no pockets to stash the spares!)
After three and a half glorious hours of playing on the beach with anyone willing to toss a ball, we headed home for a late lunch and Petey stretched out on the porch for a good four-hour nap!
A perfect Sunday at the seaside.