It was the first summer for Goldie; our 8-month old rescued Golden Retriever. Initially, she went to the Santa Cruz Small Craft Harbor where she fell into the water, learned she could swim, and went sailing. It was that first sail where she became seasick, overcame it, and became fascinated by her cousins the sea lions.
Her next summer adventure was at the beach in Aptos. Like her ocean experience, Goldie had never seen the seashore, and the ebb and flow of the surf became a new mystery.
As she approached the water, her nose went into action. Then her paw got wet, then a wave broke, and the foamy water rushed in around her feet. She made a run for safety!
Once safely on the beach, she gave me that look that seemed to say, “I trust you, but now what are we doing?”
Together, we ventured back into the water. I was at calf depth, and she was in up to her lower body. Again, a wave broke. She had forgotten about swimming and began jumping up and out of the water. Finally, the dog paddle was set into motion. We made it back to the beach thankful that we had survived yet another ordeal.
Next was the beach and the shorebirds. Dogs love the beach. Where allowed, they can run at their heart’s content, sniff lots of new scents, and dip into the surf for relief from the heat. Goldie was no exception. As she ran along the beach, she came upon a group of shorebirds lounging on the sand. Being a retriever, there had to be an instinct that took over.
Goldie spotted the birds, froze in her tracks, and went into a point. She waited and waited, but nothing happened. She finally looked back at me as if to say, “Well, do something.” I didn’t know what I was supposed to do, so we both stood looking at each other in utter confusion.
Finally, I said, “Get ‘em!” and she took off on a mission to scatter the flock to flight.
From then on, she stalked birds, pointed, and waited for my response. She stalked birds at the park, in our backyard, while we were driving in my truck, and yes, even at the yacht harbor.
Finally, there was an incident on the cliff overlooking Davenport Landing. It was early April, and we were looking for the last of the whales migrating north. As we strained our eyes searching for the telltale spout, Goldie was staring into the grass around our ankles.
Suddenly, I spotted a whale. “There” I said, as we squinted for a better look. At the same time, Goldie dove headfirst into the grass. She emerged with a mouse in her mouth. She was as startled as the poor mouse, and her wide eyes attested to it. With a wild fling, the poor mouse came flying in my direction, where it struck me in the face. Now there were three startled creatures: Goldie, the mouse, and me. Now it was my turn to look at her and ask, “What are you doing?”
Thankfully, the mouse scurried off to safety, and Goldie and I were left to ponder this strange relationship between a man and his best friend. There was trust, love, and respect, but so far, not a great deal of mutual understanding.
The understanding would eventually come, however. I learned that my dog was happiest when I scratched her ears, shared a taste of my favorite pasta with her, and took her for drives in my truck. She, on the other hand, knew that although people did strange things, they were happiest when scratching her ears, patting her rear, and having her unconditional love and companionship.
For more info: L_Tartaglino@hotmail.com