It was a fine afternoon, perfect for Joe, Bryn and me to drive to the one Traverse City beach (unfenced) where dogs are allowed. We threw her blue bone into the van and, ten minutes later, pulled into its little parking lot. Bryn, recognizing where she was, gleefully hopped out, and we two ran toward Lake Michigan, leaping over the very long, large logs that marked the end of the lawn and the beginning of beach- to land nearly on top of a family of four, lounging on the sand with their two leashed black Labrador retrievers! (The beach area was just low enough to hide them until the last second.)
WOOF! Their big dogs leaped straight up into the air with shock and surprise, along with their owners. There was a potpourri of yells, barks and tangled leashes as the dogs scrambled to fly at Bryn, who’d gathered her wits just enough to run toward the water’s edge. Their owners were dragged along the sand, until one woman managed to slow her dog with a combination of cease-and-desist commands. The lady was strong, but her muscular 80-pound dog was full of adrenaline-fueled indignation.
Eventually everyone calmed down enough to sniff backsides, though one lab, still unsettled, continued to puff out her chest and cheeks while nudging Bryn around the sand. I apologized for our unwitting ‘bombshell’ entrance, explaining that, as we seldom encountered other people with dogs here, I’d allowed Bryn to lead the way, with no lead. Fortunately they weren’t angry, but cracked jokes as they sorted themselves and shook out their big blanket.
By this time Joe had caught up with us. He decided to throw Bryn’s bone far out into the water: she’ll swim for it, further lowering animal tension...
Bryn stood at water’s edge, looking back toward the dogs, ignoring the toss. The bone sailed well out into the bay, and floated further and further away on the current.
Oh, no! We didn’t want to lose it! Sighing, Joe decided he’d swim out to fetch it- in his clothes. He transferred shoes, socks, poop bags, wallet, phone, ear buds, keys and other sundry stuff to me, and began to wade out.
“Wait!” hollered the lady. “Molly’ll fetch it; she loves the water!” She flung a vividly orange plastic bone very close to Bryn’s bone, and sure enough, Molly charged into the water.
With powerful strokes she arrived at the spot, took one sniff at the bobbing orange bone- and turned away with a loud snort. That one was Dayton’s! Her mistress had tossed the nearly identical, but wrong bone out there. Molly would NOT fetch Dayton’s bone. And, of course, she utterly ignored Bryn’s. Only her bone mattered.
Hearty laughter erupted as they explained Molly’s oddity as she exited the water, shooting her mistress a ‘what were you thinking!’ look. So, to mollify Molly, the lady tossed the correct bone far out; it landed practically on top of Dayton’s abandoned bone. Molly chuffed, approving- and swam steadily toward hers.
The world made sense again.
Meanwhile, Joe swam out to retrieve our blue bone (and Dayton’s), and swam toward shore. In shallow water he stood up and tossed it toward Bryn. After a think, she waded in and snatched it.
When she came near I issued the ‘drop it’ command. Then, winding up to throw it far out, I mischievously told Molly to fetch it, knowing full well that that command would be ignored. But Bryn, horrified by the possibility, forgot her indecisiveness and flung herself in to swim frantically out to it, all the while tossing glances over her shoulder. It was HER bone- only hers!
Nothing makes Bryn more willing to swim than another dog who might outshine her.
More laughter all around. Then I had an idea. I’d demonstrate a Bryn peculiarity.
“Hey Joe!” He heard and paused, treading water. “I’ll toss our bone toward you; pretend to go for it. But not too fast...You know the drill...”
I turned to the lady and her family. “Speaking of peculiarities, Bryn measures distances. She won’t make a sound if she notes that she’s closer than he is, even by only a foot...and she’s always right. Watch this.”
I flung it way out, about fifty feet from Joe’s position. Bryn plunged in and made for it, doing the calculations, and, though Joe swam quickly, she easily got it first and returned to shore.
All this was done in perfect quiet.
Once again I took it from her, and threw it closer to Joe. Bryn plunged in again, her powerful shoulders pumping. This time, though, she began to scream and wail in a high register while trying to outpace Joe, because her calculations revealed he just might reach it first. My bone! Mine!! The frightful, constant din was so nerve-racking I wondered if alarmed passersby might ring the police.
She reached the bone, snatching it a mere instant before Joe could, and then moved at full speed to shore, leaving him in her wake.
Her ‘howler’ spectacle was such a hit with the group that we set it up twice more.
Finally, it was time to go. Bryn still pranced lightly around, tail high, trying to look bigger, but, as her fluffy fur was waterlogged and flat, the big dogs were not impressed.
After entering the van she deflated like a poked balloon. Her claws dragged as she entered the house and collapsed into her nest. An occasional howl issued from our normally silent pooch during tension-filled dreams as she relived the Beach Bomb and Bone Incident over and over.
Honestly, I haven’t laughed so much in weeks...