Sunday, October 25, 2009

Matched Sets

Put all four dogs together, and they look like some kind of advertisement for the breed, or for collars, or for good wholesome living. This entry is a second for that big walk at the beach. I took something like four hundred pictures, so one entry just wasn’t going to cut it.

It’s no mean feat to get a dog to sit and stay on a busy beach with birds, people, and other dogs all around. It’s even harder to get four in a row. It’s yet harder when one of the dogs isn’t even a year old yet. You’ll have to excuse a little pride on my part that they all held their stay for several pictures and only broke on command.

Jax and Finn were a matched set. As we found out later, both Tally and Comet were suffering from the early stages of tick-borne illnesses, so they weren’t quite as feisty as their normal selves.

Uncle and nephew, though, made it their business to check every stone, to chase one another through every promising shallow, and to race each other to every subsequent seagull.

Indeed, sometimes they chased birds far too far out in the waves and had a very long trip back together. Don’t be fooled by this photo; they’re out on a sandbar, and this is a cropped shot taken with a telephoto lens. Those dogs are far away.

The beginnings of Comet’s illness didn’t prevent him from enticing Jax into a game of chase. Comet’s special guilty pleasure is to convince another dog to chase him, and Jax’s innate willingness to be the chaser has meant that these two dogs are a particularly good fit for each other.

Of course, Jax does catch Comet from time to time, and he shows us that his ultimate goal is to deliver a big chomp to Comet’s butt. It may not be the most elegant game, but it sure looks like a hell of a lot of fun.

Young Old Friends

A month after our last trip to Maine, we found ourselves there again, this time visiting our friend Jill and her dogs, Tally and Finn. We visited Jill a year and a half ago, and we enjoyed a frigid walk then.

The weather and cast of characters was different this time, though. Tango, who was a puppy then, was off visiting a friend of Jill’s for the weekend, and Gus, who made so much of his first walk on this beach, couldn’t be there either. And, of course, Jax made his beach debut.

Comet was just a puppy last time, and his coat wasn’t up to the frigid March water. Today, though, was surprisingly temperate, though Comet’s grownup coat would have handled just about any temperature.

Finn is Gus’s brother, and he’s just a few days shy of his seventh birthday, despite his white face. When you see him still, he looks like a healthy dog of some years.

When you see him in motion, though, he’s a lean young dog who has just come into his full strength, a wave crasher and a bird chaser, a streak across the water’s glitter.

When I see Finn move, I consider, for a moment, giving into a fierce jealousy that I can’t have my friend back on this beach on this day, on this perfect border between sand, sea, and sky. But joy crowds out jealousy, and no green eyed monster can compete with the simple pleasure of running vicariously through the waves with an amber eyed dog.

I cradled Finn as a puppy; I helped gently teach him to keep all four paws on the ground during a greeting, to choose a toy to chew instead of a hand, and now he’s a young old man jumping from the top of one wave to the next.

Finn plays like a puppy too. Tally, another of Jill’s dogs, is much younger, but when you see the two of them romp, you really can’t tell. Tally is, of course, not howling in pain here, but rather trying to swing his head around to playbite Finn back.

It didn’t take long for Jax to interject himself into this playfight, and soon it was sand flying, teeth flashing, and the full range of Golden colors all wet and dirty in the sun.