The dog beach

The shy March sun caressed my bare shoulders as we waded through dry sand. I held our beagle’s leash firmly even though we were on the dog beach. It was Harley’s first experience around other off-leash dogs. She stayed at my side, her brown eyes wide and her tail hooked down in the question mark position.

The shoreline was a flurry of activity. Dogs dashed past into frothing waves. Owners threw frisbees and balls. Tails wagged and rear ends were sniffed. My husband and I found a spot at the edge of the wet sand and set up our chairs. I held my breath and unhooked Harley’s leash, wondering if she would run off. She cowered behind my chair.

The sky was brilliant blue and clear of clouds, although helicopters made regular appearances as they monitored the coastline. The sand and breeze were cool, balancing out the relentless rays of the sun. Not quite swimsuit weather for me, although some of the other beach goers didn’t shy away from them.

A white Lab trotted over to check us out. His friendly face convinced us to allow him to approach Harley. Our beagle froze in place while the dog sniffed her. Whew! We made it through one encounter.

To our left, someone had left their towel and bad in the sand while they were at the water. Two dogs came up to sniff around it. One raised his leg. A woman in a bikini shouted at them and they scattered. Harley watched intently.

Another group of dogs flew past us and circled around to that same towel and bag. Barking madly, Harley jumped up and raced over there to chase them off. I called her and she returned, proud of herself.

It was a pleasant morning watching dogs enjoy themselves. Smiling and panting, soaked with sea water, they raced up and down the water line. The owners actively supervised their dog children to prevent fights. Harley didn’t join in, but she watched.

After a few hours, our pink skin convinced us we’d had enough sun for the day. As I clipped on Harley’s leash, she held me with her sad eyes. We walked toward the Jeep, half-dragging her with us.

Maybe next time she’ll be ready to join the fun.

The cone of shame

When I wake up in the cage, a plastic shield is attached to my neck. All the sounds that are usually crisp and clear are muffled now. My eyes attempt to focus on what’s going on outside my prison, but everything is reduced to blurred shapes.

Although my other senses are covered in a blanket, my nose never fails. Sharp, forest smells. Fresh pine needles. Blood, old and cleaned up but still smelling like rusty nails and rotten leaves.

A nice girl who gave me treats when I was brought in opens the cage door. I try to wag my tail, but it feels disconnected. She snaps on my collar and takes me into her arms. A dull ache cuts through the cloud.

“Yip!” I protest.

“It’s okay, Davey. Your mom is here to get you,” she assures me. Slowly she lowers me to the floor. I feel a slight tug at my neck. Last week I learned that means I must walk beside whatever human is closest to me.

I take a step and stop. I can’t see my feet! The plastic cone flares out from my neck and prevents from seeing anything except what is in front of me. I plop down, ignoring the pull on my neck. This does not seem safe.

“Come, Davey. Let’s go home,” my beloved mommy says. Because I trust her, and she feeds and kisses me every day, I let her lead me out to the car.She won’t let me bump into anything. She lifts me up to the back seat. I feel so tired I fall asleep.

Next time I wake up, my senses are back to normal. I can see the wood floor that’s so good for chewing and smell my mommy’s food in the kitchen. I start to run around the room, but the plastic cone bounces off the couch, the tables, and the wall. I sit down in frustration.

My bottom starts to itch so I try to take care of it like I always do. The cone’s in the way! What kind of devilish torture is this? If this is my punishment for chewing the wall, it’s too extreme. I thought my mommy and daddy loved me! Just like Harley said, they love her more than me. Harley is a beagle and three years older than me, so she always thinks she knows everything. She doesn’t have to wear a cone!

“It’s okay, Davey,” my mommy scratched behind my ears in the right place where only she knows. I’m so thankful because I have no way to scratch myself. “It’s only for a few days.”

What do I know about a few days? This is now, and it’s terrible.

“Come on, let’s go outside to go pee pee,” my mommy says.

Easier said than done. I crash into the side of the door, smack my cone repeatedly on the metal fence, and finally sit down on the grass, grateful I didn’t fall into the pool along the way.

How do you pee when you can’t aim? I try peeing sitting down and end up drenching my front legs. I try to lick them clean, but the cone stops me again. Harley’s growling at me from the far end of the yard. This is so embarrassing!

Harley used to be my best friend and play with me every day. She showed me all the best places in the yard to dig and how to eat the hibiscus flowers. Ever since I came home with the cone, she runs away in terror.

I’ve been made into a monster!

Just when I think it can’t get worse, it’s time for my dinner. My best mommy in the world set down my dish and says, “Wait.”

I don’t know why I have wait for my food when humans sit down and eat their food right away. But I wait anyway. You never know when a treat might be involved.

“Go ahead.” I put my head down to eat, and the cone crashes with the floor. I can still reach my food, but it’s like I’m in a plastic tent. Not such a bad thing since that means Harley can’t reach in and steal my food.

Finally it’s time for night-night time. Instead of inside my comfy crate, I have to sleep on the laundry room floor. Harley stares at me with suspicion from inside her crate, growling softly.

As I lay flat on the hard tile floor, I try to relax. Ever since my mommy and daddy brought me home, they’ve given me only good things. I need to trust them even though I don’t understand.  As I drift off into puppy dreams, I pray that I’ll wake up tomorrow and the plastic cone will be gone.