Tuesday, July 7, 2009


Image is from our first trip to the beach........where we met up with a seal.

I had devised a little 4th of July greeting that i never posted- so will start with the display of enthusiasm...and then how it all played out.

Happy 4th! ---- B-Day and Gotcha day Celebration!

- July 4 - due the uncertainty of his birthday, we have settled on Booker’s happy days being celebrated together. In the early am we will head out to Muir Beach for the 2nd time ( you may recall the story of meeting up with a seal the first time!). He is around 6 now and we will all have been together for 2 years now.

In any case, I can hardly wait. It has been over one year now since we hit the beach. We never made it back, due to the long trial of reduced activity from rear knee (gratefully only one) / ACL injury and the subsequent December 08 TPLO surgery (with patellar repair) and again several months of severe activity restrictions. His leg is totally stable again, and the only real change is he doesn’t do his little jump up into the air and twirl around to greet me when I get home any more. Nixed that one!

Last year, he was so thrilled being at the ocean, and from his excitement as we turned onto the Highway 1 road (we often call him our GPS dog!) Booker definitely displayed he had been to the beach before. Boy did he love running out into the surf (gentle, in a protected cove) and swam like a champ.

So we will go early, swim, play with seaweed (he chomped plenty last time); we will have an early picinc brunch and head home before the beach gets mobbed.
Wellllll, we got there- it was still foggy, and we had a small cove all to ourselves. It was also low upcoming/slack tide too, so no pounding waves to deal with- Perfect!. Quiet, no wind, gentle waves...

After setting up the beach mat I pulled out the huge plastic ball that we reserve for a rare occasional use- he tears his snout up if we use it anywhere else. He is totally nuts for this ball- recall goes out the window and we have to use a tug toy to get it back from him- he won’t give it up ....Normally he is extremely mild mannered and obedient. We call him our gentleman dog.

We were kicking it around at the shoreline and he nudges it into the surf ( I think he was a dolphin in a former life) and started swimming totally straight out, with the ball crazed determination he has....casting any recall to the wind. I quickly see how FAST he is headed out and jump into my suit and double caps ( too cold for a long swim without).

By the time I am swimming out, he is WAY out, headed straight out to sea! I called to him and he managed to go after the ball a bit more from side to side, rather than straight out. I notice I can BARELY make headway to catch up but quickly quell any sense of panic rising in me- no mean feat- and keep plugging away to try and catch up. I rationalize that he will tire and slow down and that my springtime return to major swimming training will be most helpful... (also fortunately I am a former competitive open water swimmer, which helped me be OK with being so far out at sea).

Oh man he kept on going but sure enough, finally did start to slow down. Whew. I devised strategy after strategy to keep my mind focussed and keep calm.

First strategy was to be as calm as possible when I caught up, and to circle around so he didn’t get a keep-away game kicked in -thinking he is such a little tenacious guy, I’d try to throw the ball towards shore, to turn this around.

2nd strategy was to go off to the closest shore area to rest him a bit before swimming back- but as the the walls of rocks showed up- scratch that one off...

3rd strategy was to avoid any sense of panic- to remain absolutely calm and focussed- to avoid him picking up on the anxiety this turn of events could easily induce in me.

I paced myself so I wouldn’t be worn out; backstroke is my most efficient stroke, so there I was, making headway to catching, hoping in time to turn him around before he wore out...

All of a sudden there he was next to me smiling away, with glee at how much fun he was having- I turned around and was saying Bookie come- let’s go- let’s go- and off he took towards shore, leaving me biting the dust in his wake. I was still very concerned that he might tire and go under but boy, he is so fast! I can swim a mile in 35 minutes- no kicking off from poolsides- last I clocked myself in a pool.

........He beat me back by a huge length.

I actually felt honored that he gave up his ball chasing to join me- it is probably half way to Hawaii by now..

Tom saw all this from shore, so far away now that he had judged that B-Boy was OK by the movement of the BIG ball- So when the progression stopped, his heart sank, thinking Booker had gone under....and seeing only me coming back in ( one set of splashes only), his heart sinking at what I must be feeling out there too..

Booker‘s head was not visible yet from shore- we were so far out by this time, he could barely make my splashes out either.

Well, Booker tore back to shore in surely record breaking time, if he had been a human! OMG- he had made it! For quite a while before that, I could no longer see him, not until he was on the beach again.....

I had tossed Tom a tug toy to wave around as I dove into the surf, in the hope that it might bring him back. Well, the little bugger ran ashore, vomited (probably had swallowed plenty of salt water) and proceeded to jump at the tug for his next set of fun and games. Totally ready for his next round of play!

Lesson learned- Booker has absolutely no recall when it comes to the ball and what a stupid human I can be. How fast he is...how we have to be so on guard at all times.

I was literally sickened by the whole experience- could not eat all day and and was probably experiencing adrenaline detox all the next day- Monster of a headache - and a sore throat from calling out to him.

THANK DOG he is OK....