You may have seen him before. Well yeah, he’s right up above here in my banner. His name is Zeke and he’s my best bud. We try to go to the beach at least once a week. We experience different things on our walk, even though we’re walking together.
I’m currently working out some issues that are tough for me. The fresh sea air clears my head. The cool wind keeps me present. I always notice that the sea and the beach are different. Though we’ve walked this beach hundreds of times, maybe thousands, it feels like a fresh place each time we go. It might be new driftwood that washed up the night before, could be that sand has been removed or brought to the beach by the angry night sea, or simply that the light has changed from the last time we visited. It’s always a different day on the same beach for us, every time we go.
I wish I was a stats person. If I was, I could tell you how many more smells Zeke notices than I do. To me, it’s simply the fresh sea breeze and beach I notice. But to my best friend this is a treasure trove of smells. Dogs have well, a lot more smell senses than we do. They have sensors in their mouths as well as those keen noses. So when we go to the beach, the salt air is just a backdrop to all the other interesting smells. Canines that have visited the beach before us, food that has been stashed carelessly behind by folks having a meal on the beach, or sea birds that have left their bodies for the other side (another way of saying “dead birds”), all of these smells are of intense interest to a dog. If the tide hasn’t washed it away, chances are, he can smell it. So his walk is like mine. It’s different every day.
We occasionally have east winds that gust from the land. I used to hate these days when Zeke was younger. The good news was that east winds mean clear weather. Sometimes warm, sometimes cold depending on the season. But they also mean bringing smells from the land. Even I with my wimpy sense of smell have noted the musky scent of elk as we walk the beach and so has Zeke.
When he was younger I would watch him (very carefully) as he’d run along the tree line that meets the beach, looking up for a place to spring up an elk trail. A place to start the chase. Some days I’d lose him and his brother for a few frustrating hours. I’d worry about the road that he’d have to cross in order to stay in pursuit. And then what? How would a dog who pales in comparison to these giants capture their “prey”? Bark them to death?
Those days are mostly over since his brother has sore bones, he doesn’t rise to the occasion too often for the hunt. But now that I know what I know about dogs, I wish I hadn’t been so hard on them. I used to scream, yell, stamp my feet, get all bent outa shape. Threaten them with no walks. All to no avail. And for what? Being angry that they were simply being dogs doing what dogs do? Having fun? Nah, the stamping, yelling, and screaming never worked.
And Zeke isn’t my dog. He lives in another pack of which he considers me a member. Maybe because I picked him from the litter. He fell asleep in my lap on his ride to his new home. He took his first walk with me on the beach. And then his second, and then (just keep adding them in here). He may not live with me, but Zeke’s my dog. He calls me “mom”, he calls to me when he’s in trouble, and he has an adorable sense of humor.
Yeah my guy is in his prime now, a few more years will tip him into his elder years. I don’t think about that though because that would be going against the grain of dogs. For dogs, like we humans should, live in the moment. We’ll be walking the beach and Zeke will remind me that I’m not staying with the moment very well. I’m “off” somewhere in my head which does us no good. We need to stay present, he reminds me, or we might miss one of these interesting smells. Or simply the pleasure of being together on the beach.
I love my guy. I know he loves me too. And it’s the kind of love that doesn’t shift and change. It’s not complicated love. It just is.
Wish I was a stats person. Then I could guesstimate how many others out there have Zeke’s and know what I’m talking about. It’s what life’s about. The fact that two beings can take the same walk, have totally different experiences, and still be blissfully happy at the conclusion of their time together.
That kind of friendship. That kind of love.