There are so many things I love doing in the Fall. For instance, mulching leaves. Or buying roadside cider. Which is usually so chunky and filled with floating pieces, I'm pretty sure it's also made from mulching leaves.
Still, of all the autumn activities, probably my favorite one is taking my dog to the beach. As most Westchester residents know, by late-October, the ban is lifted for canines on our sandy shores. Of course, I happen to be one of those rare people who is also banned from the beach in summer. But there's a moral here: when a strange woman asks you to put suntan lotion only on her back? She means it!
There are several reasons why my dog Happy loves the beach. Probably the most compelling one is that he loves to dig here. Of course, Hap does a lot of that in my neighborhood too, but it's different at the local beach. For instance, when he's done, no one makes me re-sod their lawn. And do I have to tell you how embarrassing it is, when both you and your dog are named in the same restraining order?
When it's just sand though, all us dog owners can let our pets really get into it. Of course, you need to be watchful if your dog is the obsessive type. Sometimes after a dog digs all that sand and makes a hole, he feels so guilty he immediately starts to fill it up again. Which is okay, provided he's not dumping the sand on another dog. Then the whole thing shifts from 'outdoor activity' to 'premature burial.'
And unless you can prove to authorities that your dog is a shaman and this is a legitimate ritual, you are so screwed.
Now that they are legally allowed to, dogs across the county are also able to enjoy running on the beach. Of course, some training should be involved here. Without instruction, dogs run off and don't always know they eventually need to come back. There are usually a lot of canines roaming around, however. And some of the more optimistic types will tell you, even if your dog doesn't return, you can eventually get one just as good. Still, some of us find this to be a little too upbeat to be normal.
So try and train your pet before you let him run. And for a little insurance, keep some snausages in your hip pocket. Not only does this treat lure dogs back. But also some pretty nice people. Meaning, if you carry some of these snacks, you can come to the beach alone and leave with a wife and kids. Those things are amazing!
People will also tell you that the beach is a good place for these creatures to bond. Mostly dog whisperers. Meaning you'll need to tell them to speak up! Of course, I've seen various breeds come together in ways that are undesirable. In other words, they urge each other on and mug civilians. So there's a fine line here between hanging out and 'wilding.'
Of course, a trip to Westchester's sandy stretches wouldn't be complete without a good swim. Most dogs love to go in the water, even when it's chilly. Or in my retriever's case, especially when. And if there are a gaggle of dogs around, it's a wonderful sight to see them all going in together. Of course, this scenario rivals that of running. In that it's also hard, once dogs swim out, getting them to return. Of course, not all of them do. And several of them are passing Catalina Island as we speak.
Still, many of these swimmers are being sponsored now and raising money for medical research. So clearly, taking your dog to the beach is like most of the other events in your life. It's a good news-bad news kind of deal. And you know? That's probably the best you can hope for.