Our next trip was to the beach. It was a longer drive, so it would be a whole day thing. No problem, said Hunk’s guy. Okay, said Big Miss, a little cautiously. Sure, said Spunky Doo’s people—please. And Chum? He had gone home on his own after the field trip, but I’d remembered his number.
“Oh, he’d love to go to the beach with you! I’ll get his beach ball out.” His beach ball? Turns out it was a severely waterlogged rubber ball, essentially a sponge ball. Chum was waiting at the door, his beach ball in his mouth, clearly understanding he was GOING TO THE WATER!! Of course. He was part lab.
Little Miss was also waiting at the door, in a bikini. Oh my god. It was an itsy bitsy, teeny weeny bikini. A yellow, polka dot bikini.
Hunk pretended not to notice. As did Chum. Spunky Doo wouldn’t have noticed in any case. And Kessie didn’t really care what other people wore. She had a bright green tennis ball in her mouth. And Snookums—Snookums was having her second car ride, so she threw up. I pulled over and with Little Miss’ permission, and I suspect, her approval, took off her bikini and used it to clean up Snookum’s throw-up.
Half an hour later, we arrived. I parked the car and let the dogs out. Yippee!! Woohoo! Kessie knew what she wanted. She’d been here before. She put her ball in my hand, got ready, and then tore off down the runway of hard packed sand by the water’s edge, racing after her ball. Sheer bliss.
Chum put his beach ball down at my feet, then looked expectantly out to the water. Of course! I threw it out as far as I could. He heard the plop, noted its position, and then threw himself into the waves after it.
This was Snookums’ first time at the beach. What would she do? Turned out she was fascinated by the water’s edge. She toddled along the edge, beside me, as I walked along on the firm part. Splish, splash, plunk, plunk. She was very focused. On what, I wasn’t sure. Shiny grains of sand? Rotten bits of fish?
Spunky Doo was running ahead and back, barking at the waves. Little Miss was walking on the other side of me, careful not to get her tootsies wet, lifting them higher than was really necessary. And Hunk. Hunk was a surprise. I don’t think Dobermans are known for their swimming abilities. And suddenly he was out there, howling, and yipping, and squealing, and splashing at the surface with his huge paws, having the time of his life, and gulping water, and—oh my god, was he drowning? I looked at Chum, who, as part lab, was our designated Lifeguard. Until this moment, he had been repeatedly plowing through the waves with masterful and determined strokes after his soggy and increasingly forlorn beach ball. But upon hearing Hunk, he stopped, looked, and listened. And then resumed plowing through the waves with masterful and determined strokes. After his soggy and increasingly forlorn beach ball. Okay then. Little Miss had also looked to Chum. She understood he was not concerned, but she wasn’t entirely convinced. She kept her eye on Hunk as she walked beside me.
Apparently Spunky Doo didn’t get the memo. He dove into the water after Hunk. Whether he intended to rescue him or just join in on the goofiness, we’ll never know. We do know that once Spunky Doo reached Hunk, the rescue situation had to be reassessed. Again Chum stopped, looked, and listened. I looked attentively at Chum. As did Little Miss. Even Snookums paused. (Kessie used the moment to put her ball securely into my hand.) But by then Hunk had extricated himself from Spunky Doo and had struggled ashore, muttering. (‘Dumb a** dog…’, no doubt.)
Jass Richards has a master’s degree in philosophy and for a (very) brief time was a stand-up comic (now she’s more of a sprawled-on-the-couch comic). Despite these attributes, she has received four Ontario Arts Council grants. In addition to her Rev and Dylan series (The Road Trip Dialogues, The Blasphemy Tour and License to Do That), which has reportedly made people snort root beer out their noses, she has written This Will Not Look Good on My Resume, a collection of short stories described as “a bit of quirky fun that slaps you upside the head.” “At the Beach” is excerpted from its sequel Dogs Just Wanna Have Fun. All of her books, including her most recent, TurboJetslams: Proof #29 of the Non-Existence of God, can be purchased (in print and various e-formats) at all the usual online places.