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Dog Day

 

Why is there no national dog holiday in the United States? I’m sure there’s a national dog day on the calendar, like there are national pizza and ice cream days, or like there’s an International Women’s Day that Americans never bother to celebrate. Maybe I don’t need a single day to remind me to celebrate my dogs – just like I’ve never felt like Mother’s Day made sense, because my gratitude for Mommy, and for my puppies, is inescapable every day. It would be like having a national Let’s-Watch-TV-After-Work day, or Maybe-Today-We-Should-Eat-Dinner day. It’s a given.

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“Did she say dinner?”

But, if we were going to do a big commercial celebration of Dog Day, with a day off of work, and ritualized outings, what would we include?

We’d probably suddenly realize that there are nowhere near enough dog parks to serve all of the families that want to take their special loved ones out for a run. And we’d have to change all of the no-dogs-allowed rules in restaurants. We’d also have to come up with a very big, high powered pooper scooper, to help us clean up the sand at the beach at the end of Dog Day, or maybe every ten minutes of Dog Day.

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“Where’s the poop?”

There would be a run on bone-shaped aluminum pans at the supermarket, for all of the homemade meatloaf cakes people would be baking, and kibble and cheese and chicken and salmon would all sell out days in advance. Amazon would have to deliver thousands of doggy treadmills, wrapped in colorful bows, that would end up being used as hangers for doggy sweaters and jackets and never get used. People without dogs would have to sit at home and mutter about how there’s nothing on TV that doesn’t remind them of their dogless status, and they’d end up eating one of the leftover meatloaf cakes from the supermarket the next day, because they were on sale at half price.

The thing is, though, I’m not sure the dogs would even notice. They might notice that the dog parks were extra crowded, or that there were more barks in the air than usual, but otherwise, it would be the same celebratory feeling they get every day. The joy they feel when mommies come home from work, or human brothers come home from college for the weekend just to play with them, or when everyone in the family is home on a Sunday morning to eat bagels and give puppy scratches and run around the backyard.

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“It’s dog day?”

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“Yup!”

What I’m saying is, pretty much every day feels like dog day to Cricket and Butterfly, and they wouldn’t have it any other way.

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“Are you exhausted? Because I’m really exhausted. This being a dog thing is hard work.”

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“Phew.”

To The Beach

Cricket loves bird poop. To be fair, she loves poop of all kinds. When she goes to the beach, she noses every pole and bench and wooden slat, and she can inspect one blade of grass for hours if an animal has left traces behind. She is a one dog C.S.I. team.

"I think smell bird poop!"

“I think smell bird poop!”

The most likely offender

The most likely offender

Both of my dogs love the beach, and my Mom loves the beach, but I don’t. I feel itchy and grumpy and inexplicably hopeless there. I force myself to go, like I force myself to take vitamins, because it’s supposed to be good for me.

Sunset

Sunset

We got into the habit of walking along the boardwalk at the beach for twenty minutes or so a day when we lived at the old apartment. I was already struggling to walk right, and Mom hoped that the fresh air, and the soft wood planks under my feet, and of course, the handrails, would help.

Mom believes that the smell of the seaweed, and the swirling patterns of the seagulls, and the sound of the waves have a healing power. She takes her camera along and charts the changing character of the water.

A treasure trove of smells

A treasure trove of smells

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IMG_2279summer 2008 to winter 2009 079

When we moved to the new apartment we stopped our daily trips to the beach. The extra ten or fifteen minute drive was a good excuse, but not the real reason. Despite endless attempts, I still hated the briny taste of the air, and the indifference of the seagulls, and the squawking predatory sound they made when they circled a pile of stale bread in the parking lot. I was still afraid of the creepy crawlies that lived under the dark green water, and the slippery sea plants wrapping themselves around my ankles.

"Get off my beach!"

“Get off my beach!”

"Let go of my leash and I can reach it!"

“Just let go of my leash and I’ll go by myself.”

I forced myself to go back to the beach again in mid October. I felt silly for avoiding it, and I wanted the dogs to have a chance to socialize with other dogs, on leashes, and to sniff new things that don’t live in my backyard. Once again, the girls loved it, and Mom loved it, and I didn’t.

I sound like a curmudgeon. Beaches are supposed to be inspiring and life giving and romantic, and instead, they make me feel like life is not worth living. Even watching Butterfly sniff every spot Cricket had just sniffed couldn’t quite cheer me up. And I don’t know why. There are too many mysteries like this that I can’t resolve.

I’ll go back again, eventually, if only to make my family happy. In the meantime, I walk by the local pond instead. I nod to the ducks, and look up as packs of geese fly by, and shake my fist at the signs that say my dogs are not welcome in this lovely place, where Cricket could sniff bird poop to her heart’s content.

Bird Island, where no dogs may roam

Bird Island, where no dogs may roam

"So there!"

“So there!”

(All pictures in this post taken by Naomi Mankowitz – aka Grandma)