Columns

Richard’s Almanac: Going to the dogs

A plethora of pooches proudly pawed their way along the beach I was enjoying last weekend.

(I couldn’t resist the alliterative possibilities here.)

As I sat in my beach chair enjoying the splendid sunshine and warm temperatures, I was surprised at how blithely dog walkers walked by, smiling and waving. Some had their charges leashed. Others did not. And this is along a stretch of beach where the roadway is loaded with signs reminding beachgoers that parking stickers are required and dogs are not permitted whether on or off a leash. Signs do say that dogs are permitted on the roadways adjacent to the beach.

I was not particularly bothered, but I think that some people could be, along with some piping plovers that seemed to be everywhere.

And when one is resting on the beach in the sun in beachwear, there is a feeling of vulnerability as untethered dogs approach. And I like dogs. They are wonderful pets and great family members.

But I have been bitten a few times, after which the owner has said, “He’s never done that before.” And quickly adding, “But he’s had all his shots.”

I owned a Siberian husky for some 14 years. He was a devoted loyal companion but had a mind of his own. It seemed like he always wanted to escape. I remember taking Hank to run along Shell Beach on a sunny March day some years ago. When he decided that he’d had enough of the water and retrieving sticks, he just took off. He just would not get in my car, but wanted to run next to it.

He ran with the car all the way home — a couple of miles. He had a great time and got plenty of exercise. I never took him near a beach again. And I would never let him off his leash. The times that he did escape he ate a neighbor’s chickens and another time was caught by the dog warden and I had to pick him up at the dump.

And dogs are sometimes good for senior citizens, particularly those who live alone. They offer companionship and absolute loyalty. Not to mention the security.

Dogs also get us outside and walking them provides us with necessary exercise and fresh air.

I currently am able to do this with my daughter’s family dog. Bear is a rescue dog with a black coat and medium build. Always very lovable and friendly, except sometimes other dogs upset her when we’re walking. And I can tell that it is the kind of behavior that annoys other dog walkers.

So let’s follow the rules and enjoy our canine friends. But remember that not everyone shares our devotion and respect their space.