"You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us." ~Robert Louis Stevenson
"To sit with a dog on a hillside on a glorious afternoon is to be back in Eden, where doing nothing was not boring - it was peace." ~Milan Kundera
In case you didn’t know, I write to you from Florida, and yesterday was one of the most beautiful days I’ve seen in a long while. The air was a crisp 69 degrees, the cloudy wisps were an ethereal white, and the sky was the kind of blue that was so bold it makes your eyes squint when you look at it. Days like this call your name, and they beg of you to go outside and experience the love of an early spring afternoon.
So after drinking our coffee and having our breakfast outside, my hubby had the wonderful idea that we’d make an impromptu visit to the beach (yes, Florida does have its perks), but where he was taking us wasn’t just any old beach…
It was Honeymoon Island, one of the prettiest and most happy beaches there is, and that’s because it’s a DOG beach! So, within minutes we were packing the truck and loading in the dogs... Swimsuits? Check! PB&J? Check! Copious techno-colored beach towels? Check! A good book and camera? Check! Leashes and water? Check!
Caesar and Grace (our rescued APBTs) danced and ran haphazard, puppy laps around the house, all the while barking at an uncomfortable decibel. They didn’t know where they were going, but they were ecstatic for the ride all the same. There’s nothing they love more.
So, after a great deal of waiting and pacing (the dogs, anyway), we were finally there! All types of dog of every size and shape ran about, chasing balls, digging holes, greeting strangers, splashing in the waves, and rolling in the sand. Caesar and Grace were in nirvana, and I thought, if this isn’t what doggy heaven looks like, then I don’t know what is. It’s amazing to see the natural joy that comes from a dog and how easy it is for them to find delight and entertainment. And because of these endearing antics, the humans were equally as happy and relaxed as the dogs were. They were smiling, laughing, running, splashing, and greeting one another too. Dogs seem to have that effect on us, don’t they?
But in all of this fanfare, one of the day’s experiences touched me most. It happened as we were walking Caesar and Grace down the beach, where the waves meet the sand. And there she was.
She was a Doberman, lean, sleek, and jet black. Large and majestic, this breed can be quite intimidating, but intimidating, she was not. And from where I walked, I saw that there was something attached to the trunk of her body. It was a mechanical extension on two light-weight wheels, which allowed her to glide across the sand dunes with ease. But as I looked closer, I realized that her hind legs were gone entirely. This contraption wasn’t a toy; it was a necessity. In that very moment of realization, I was overwhelmed by conflicting emotions. Part of me was clumsily surprised, while the other part of me felt a sort of pity. I felt bad for her, for her clearly loving owners, and her four-legged partner (another majestic Doberman). Poor thing, I thought, as I discreetly watched her wheel across the beach. I wondered if she felt badly for herself.
But then I realized a few things as I continued to observe her down the beach. Her owners were smiling and chattering and calling to her. He four-legged mate leapt about and teased her just as any dog would. And she was panting with that broad, toothy smile every dog owner can spot from a thousand steps away. She was happy. In fact, they were all happy; no one felt bad for anybody except me. And the most amazing thing was that all the other dogs on the beach didn’t care or didn’t realize the foreign apparatus belted to her trunk one bit. It’s as if they didn’t have the capacity to have pity or judgment for that little Doberman with no hind legs. She was just as much dog as the rest of them.
So yet again, our four-legged friends have something worthy to teach us... In the world of dogs, there is no pity or judgment. In the world of dogs, come as you are! And in the world of dogs, what you are is enough. Now if only we could translate those puppy proverbs into the human world… If only life was a dog beach, and we were the dogs.
But until that fanciful day, you should know where you’ll find me...
...THE DOG BEACH!!!