Sunday, 13 September 2009

On the beach

Jane and I have been visiting the stretch of coast between Littlehaven and Souter for years now, and we always enjoy our walks along the headland. There’s an amazing variety of birdlife, the views are spectacular, and we always come back feeling refreshed. But the thing which has always given us the most pleasure has been watching dogs having fun on the beach. In fact this was one of the key factors in our decision to get a dog of our own: dogs and beaches seem to go together like kids and dogs, they’re simply made for each other.

You can imagine, then, how much we’ve been looking forward to having beach adventures with Bing. But so far they haven’t turned out quite as we imagined they would.

First there was the business of Bingley and the car. That dragged on for much of the summer but, thankfully, it’s now quickly becoming a distant memory; which is just as well - I don’t think we could afford to keep buying that amount of cheese!

But then once we did start visiting the beach we found that Bingley didn’t behave in quite the same way as most of the other dogs we’d seen. Nothing surprising there of course, Bing has shown himself to be one of a kind since day one!

Don’t get me wrong, he loves going there and he clearly gets very excited when we arrive at the coast. But it’s also apparent that the sea itself probably isn’t at the top of his list of favourite things; and although he has fun playing in the smaller waves, he gets a bit nervous if the sea gets too choppy. More than that, unlike most Labradors who arrive at the beach and immediately leap straight into the sea, Bingley still approaches the waters edge with some temerity even when the sea is calm.

We both suspect that this has a lot to do with his allergies. Seawater is meant to be helpful to dogs suffering with Bing’s condition, and our vet has suggested that trips to the beach would be beneficial to him. But we also think that there’s a good chance that the salt water might make his paws sting.

Of course that doesn’t stop him chasing his ball again and again, and then asking us it throw it some more. But so often when he enters the water, he does a (really quite funny to watch) high stepping, tip toe action! It’s as though he loves trying to get the ball out of the sea, but without actually getting his paws wet!

We’re still optimistic that over time his allergies will disappear, and as he gets used to the sea I dare say that eventually he’ll overcome his inhibitions about that as well. Before then though he’s got the sand to play in, and wow, does he dig that? Literally! I’ve never seen anything like it: he’s got positively industrial grade excavation skills. The only time he stops is when he’s thoroughly exhausted himself, or when he’s dug a hole so deep that he’s in danger of getting lost.

So, Bingley and the beach is still great fun, even if it isn’t quite what we imagined; and now that he’s getting more used to the car, we’re looking forward to broadening our horizons and discovering fresh expanses of sand and sea.