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Summer in the City

My wet & wild romp at Dog Beach

A 'First Dog' Account...

A day of Whine & Noses...

August 4, 1998

"Omigosh, omigosh, omigosh!"-- something extraordinary is about to happen. My owner just pulled my towel out of the closet and is now picking up my leash! Omigosh! This isn't going to be just an ordinary walk (though ordinary walks are very excellent, mind you).  Could it really be happening? Could we be going to Dog Beach? I twirl 47 circles in a row, bark furiously, and then stand panting by the front door, just in case.

Omigosh, she's fastening my leash and opening the door. Maybe if I stand on my hind legs, she'll know how much I want to go. Maybe if I pull so hard on the leash that it flies out of her hand, then race to the car and leap on the door, scratching the paint, she'll understand how excited I am. She yells at me to stop, but I can't. My heart is pounding; this may be the best day of the whole summer. We're in the car now. I'm drooling on the closed windows. I'm bouncing on the seat. Whenever I see another dog on the side of the road, I whine.  She keeps telling me to sit down. How could I possibly sit down at a time like this? We're almost there. I smell the salt air now. Time to start barking.

She opens the window a few inches so I can stick my head out. I want to jump out the window, but I can't fit. I try to paw my way out. She yanks my leash. Omigosh, there's a golden retriever over there on the beach. And, a bulldog. A couple of Rottweilers. Mutts everywhere. I think I'm going to burst. Am I barking loud enough? Can those dogs hear me? Maybe a higher pitch will do.

"Tucker!" my owner says. "Stop!" 

I can't. Either I get out of this car now, or it's all over. Finally, she finds a parking spot, a good one, right next to a cute white poodle in a convertible. Ooo la la. My owner has barely opened the car door, when I leap over her and onto the poodle, who goes down to the pavement. Within nanoseconds, I have tangled our two leashes and somehow wrapped them around the legs of the poodle's owner. The poodle's owner says something that's not printable in a family newspaper. Imagine, all this fun, and I haven't even hit the beach yet! But, that is soon to come. Somehow, my owner untangles the leashes, and I make a beeline for the sand, dragging her. She can be so slow. Everywhere I look, there are dogs, dogs and more dogs. Wet dogs. Sandy dogs. Dogs chasing Frisbees and tennis balls. Dogs leaping in the waves. Dogs racing across the beach, kicking sand on people's blankets. I am in heaven. 

Then, my owner does something that makes it even better. She unhooks my leash. I'm free. I'm so overwhelmed, I freeze. I don't know what to do. But not for long. A yellow Lab comes zooming past, and I take off in hot pursuit. Before I know it, we are in the water, up to our necks. The next hour is nirvana blurred. I run, as fast as I can, up and down the beach, barking. I romp in the waves. I sniff and chase cocker spaniels, German shepherds, Jack Russell terriers, black Labs, and other breeds I've never seen before. I pounce on another springer spaniel who is playing with a squeaky toy. I run so fast through the water, I nearly knock over small children playing. My owner throws a stick into the water, and I fetch it. We do that at least 99 times, and I still want to do it more. I dart across several people's beach blankets, and they yell at me. I drink a lot of salt water and throw it all up. I notice that some other dogs have bad manners -- one lifts his leg in the direction of a child's sand castle. But this is Dog Beach, and all of this is to be expected. Never, at any point, do I act like I am tired. I would not want my owner to think it's time to leave.

Eventually, though, she says those unhappy words, "Time to go, Tuck."

She snaps my leash back in place. I walk slowly on the way to the car. She gets my towel out and rubs my coat. I squirm and try to pull away. She urges me into the back seat, where I flop on top of my towel. In the distance, I hear dogs barking on the beach. It's been a good day, but, in my opinion, it wasn't long enough. I sleep all the way home.




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Tall Tails
Tails 2003
One in an occasional series of looks at summer life in San Diego. They call them the dog days of summer, and, when you're a dog in San Diego, they can be pretty good days if they include time spent at Dog Beach.  In Ocean Beach, Dog Beach is a leash-optional zone, where pooches may play their hearts out on the sand and in the water. Staff writer Barbara Fitzsimmons recently accompanied her springer spaniel, Tucker, to Dog Beach, and this is his account:

Copyright 1998 Union-Tribune Publishing Co.