We are enjoying our life in SW Florida. The move was crazy and we are still unsettled. We are working hard to reinvent our businesses and time can get away from us.
We made a promise to ourselves - we would take our dog, Happy Jack, to the beach on Monday mornings. And oh how glorious it has been.
We work through the weekends so Monday morning is our "weekend." We have missed some weeks but not many.
The drive to the dog beach in Venice, FL takes about 40 minutes. Of course Jack knows we are going even before we put on our beach clothes. He has a spring in his step and watches both of us even if we are not together. When we get in the car, our otherwise extremely well trained working dog becomes a normal dog - smiling, whining, pacing, and practically coming into the front seat with us. It is so much fun.We are a happy family heading out for an exciting adventure.
The pitch of Jack's activity and whining heightens as we approach. The parking area is outside of a double gate and he is manageable getting to that point and then it all goes to hell in a hand basket. Once through the first set of double gates there is a second set and he is practically crawling out of his skin. Then there is the long walk down a blacktop path, over a wooden walkway, and then we are at the beach's edge. I'm sure his high pitched whining can he heard for miles. We always let him free just before we complete the wooden walkway. He runs the 100 yards through the beach to the water like he is running for his life - the joy can be felt by all that are in the vicinity. It's contagious. Everyone that sees him making his mad dash for the water can't help but smile and most laugh out loud. He does not care about people, other dogs, other dog's toys, or other dog's balls. He is laser focused on us and what is coming.
We walk down the beach, putting our shoes, his leash, and the shampoo in a pile along the way. Jack is standing in water about up to his belly trying to be patient. He can't contain himself and he starts to shake with anticipation as we near him ball in hand. His eyes become bigger, if that is possible, and he pleads for us to throw it. As we throw the ball out into the gulf water he hurls himself around and leaps into the deeper water to swim to retrieve it. He has mastered the waves and even uses them to his advantage. Once he has the ball in his mouth he swims just as fast back to shore, riding the waves when possible. Returning the ball to us excites him as he knows there is another throw coming.
In between throws Jack would prefer to hang out in the water. If we walk down the beach he follows pleading for another throw of the ball. If we stop he backs into the water, eyes focused on us and the ball at all times. Other dogs come up to him and try to engage him to no avail. His focus is unwavering. They soon wander off and leave him to his own fun.
After a while, and many retrieves, we signal him that we have to leave. The sadness washes over him and he leaves the water. He walks up the beach with us at slower than a snail's pace. It's the end of the fun. We always say that we need to bring chairs and get him to relax at the beach but we know that is impossible.
We shampoo Jack after his swim in the gulf to get off the salt water and massage his tired muscles. He enjoys it but you can look in his eyes and see that he is reliving the swim time over and over in his mind.
Dogs live for their time with us. They jump in the car not caring about the destination just so they can hang out with us. But when the destination is somewhere that they love down into the deepest part of their hearts the joy they feel is beyond anything humans are capable of knowing.
We humans can take so many lessons from the animals around us - our dogs included. Loyalty, love, joy, honesty, selflessness, community, focus, and so much more.
We are grateful for every day with Jack.