Courage Meets the Ocean and Does Not Approve


Friday was the beginning of official vacation for me. We decided to take the dogs to a dog beach. There are many in San Diego, but we settled on Coronado, which seemed to have the features we were looking for. (Dogs off leash, safe for human swimming.)

The beach was lovely, and as soon as we got to the official dog area, Brent let Chewie off the leash to do his thing. He began working the crowd, introducing himself to dogs and people and playing in the surf. He loved it!

Courage can be reactive on-leash, so I wanted to make sure he was in off-leash mode before I unhooked him. Several dogs ran up and butts were sniffed, so I took him off the leash and invited him to play. He began moving up the beach with a worried look on his face, but I didn’t figure out right away what was going on. I followed behind him as he moved farther away from the water. He began to trot.

I called him, and he cast a glance over his shoulder at me and speeded up. I realized he was running for the car. He did not like the beach and wanted to get to his safe spot! To get there, he’d go down a gauntlet of leashed dogs, and with horror I imagined him venting his anxiety on some small, helpless silky chihuahua or something. I put on a burst of speed and closed the gap.

In my mind, it was an epic run. I was like FloJo sprinting down the beach after my fleet-footed hound. In reality, this is a mastiff I was chasing. I don’t think he even broke into a gallop, so it was maybe not as epic a run as it felt. Nonetheless, I sprinted! I caught up with him, lunged desperately for the collar, missed, fell, tumbled into the sand, and somehow caught the collar on a second grab. Success! My mouth, hair and clothes were full of sand, but I had averted disaster.

Breathing hard, I walked Courage back to where the rest of the family was. He stayed on leash for the duration. I tried showing him that the scary ocean was made of water, and he met many friendly dogs, but he became increasingly anxious and grouchy, until he began snapping at dogs that wanted to meet him. At that point, he was taken back to the beach blanket and kept there by one of us until it was time to go.

Lesson learned: Courage does not like beaches, especially dog beaches.

Now Chewie, on the other hand, was in his glory. He had the most fun of his life. He took it upon himself to greet every single dog and human. He also met several of his favorite kind of dog—the small white fluffy kind. It was cute to see him excitedly smelling and following the little white fluffy ones, some of whom were mildly alarmed by the attention. He also got to see a small white fluffy dog wearing a shirt. Dogs wearing clothes is his other big fascination. It’s like a friend, INSIDE of a stuffed animal toy.

I walked him off-leash all the way down to the end, near the naval station, and he stayed with me obediently the whole way. Chewie is a wonderful dog to take to the beach. We did find the limits of his loyalty, however. I got him out into the surf about to where it started to lift him up, and he called it quits, with a distinct look of regret, like, “Sorry, Mom, I love you,
but this I ridiculous.”

Chewie reclaimed the good dog crown from Courage that day.

So Glen and I did some body surfing sans dog. A couple of retrievers were out there having a ball. It was funny to see them leaping into the waves as they broke.

All around, it was fun to be at the beach with dogs and dog lovers. Next time will leave Courage at home.

On the way out of the beach, down the dog gauntlet, I had trouble restraining Courage. He was absolutely OVER the whole beach thing and in a rotten mood. While waiting for the hose to rinse ourselves and the dogs off, he went after a Bernese Mountain Dog. I had a firm hand on his collar and pulled back. Heedless, he went for it anyway, dragging me across the ground. I
stopped him, but ended up with a road rash on one leg. Sheesh.

Here’s a bonus picture of Glen in the zoo with both dogs.

The zoo