No other place — and I’m just speaking for myself now — is, at once, so stimulating and soothing. Give us the sound of pounding surf, the sight of gliding pelicans and the smell of salt water and, of course, access to some air conditioning, and we are happy souls. All my senses, and perhaps even my brain, seem to to work better at the beach.
And this wasn’t just any beach. This was — in what was perhaps my biggest freeloading coup to date — a gated beach community, part-time home to North Carolina’s rich and famous, good old boys like Andy Griffith and not-so-good, not- so-old ones like John Edwards.
Figure 8 Island near Wilmington is a private paradise — not accessible to the beach-going hordes, private enough that celebrities (usually) find solace there, and dotted with mansions that seem to think they’re big enough to defy hurricanes.
Exclusive is what it is — the sort of place I’d be prone to make fun of, unless of course, I was invited in.
Once Ace and I were, we didn’t want to leave.
I’d made a point to time our continuing travels so that we’d be able to take advantage of an invitation to visit my former University of North Carolina classmates Steve and Louise Coggins, year-round residents of the island who were holding a mini-reunion for some college friends, most of whom I hadn’t laid eyes on in — as someone felt it necessary to point out — 35 years.
Steve, a lawyer, and Louise, a psychotherapist, are hard core dog lovers, and hard core people lovers as well. Earl, their Cavalier King Charles spaniel, is the latest in a long line of rescues. If rescuing dogs weren’t enough, Steve has also hauled some humans out of the ocean, and I’m guessing Louise, in her job, has pulled a few humans back from the riptides of life they were caught in as well.
They, and the other old friends I reconnected with, seem to remain just about as wacky as they were in college — Louise, who once tracked down Paul Newman on the island and talked him into posing for a picture, in particular. They seem to remain — despite all you hear about the vanishing idealism of my greying generation — just as idealistic and committed as they were then, too. Maybe even more so. If there’s a liberal cause, or a Democratic candidate, you can probably find its, his or her bumper sticker on the back of Louise’s car. (“Who would Jesus execute?” was my favorite.) And, beyond lip service, both she and her husband seem still up for a fight when it comes to what they think is right.
That, to me, was even more refreshing than getting slapped and tickled by a cold ocean wave, though I must report that the ocean is not cold at all. It’s the warmest I’ve ever felt it. (This continues to be the summer I came to believe in global warming.)
Ace and Earl hit it off immediately — Earl being a low key little dog who likes to sit in a lap, or other comfortable spot, and observe the humans, often with a quizzical stare that makes you think he’s still trying to figure out the species.
Ace — though he’s not big on swimming in the ocean, prefering to wade, was in his element, too.
He seems most content when among multiple friends, kind of like Steve and Louise. Their beach house — rebuilt after Hurricane Fran claimed their first — seems to have a steady stream of visitors coming and going. If it were a bed and breakfast, it would be doing a thriving business. I think there are long stretches between the times only they and Earl are there.
I hung around for two days, evening out my one-sided driving tan and pondering how I might extend my stay. I offered to become Steve and Louise’s live- in gardener — especially appropriate because, at their wedding, I, having gone attired in blue jeans, was mistaken for a gardener. I considered altering the dates of my visitor’s permit, or stowing away on the island, sleeping on the decks of unoccupied mansions during the night, frolicking in the surf by day.
But finally, and with great effort, I tore myself away.
Ace was even harder to tear away. For the first time on this trip, he didn’t come when I called him to jump in the car. Instead he walked up to the front door of the beach house and sat down — not the momentary, ready-when-you-are-sit, but that determined, try-and-budge-me sit dogs do.
But after taking in two days of good friends, good food, good sun, good surf, and a breezy oceanfront porch swing nap that — until Ace came over and started licking my hand — was perhaps the most restful nap ever in my entire history of napping, we forced ourselves back in the hot old car and headed north, headed in search of another piece of my past.
That story is coming soon. Suffice to say that — unlike my college friends, and their principles — it didn’t hold up so well.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 9th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: ace does america, animals, beach, cavalier, college, community, democrats, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, exclusive, figure 8 island, freeloading, friends, gated, king charles, liberal, north carolina, ocean, pelicans, pets, private, reunion, road trip, shore, spaniels, traveling with dogs, wilmington
They may look like floppy-eared bundles of sweetness, but, according to the study, the English cocker was responsible for the highest number of canine aggression cases brought to a veterinary teaching hospital from 1998 to 2006.
“In our country and according to our database, the English cocker spaniel is the breed that shows more aggression problems,” says lead author Marta Amat, a researcher in the School of Veterinary Medicine at the Autonomous University of Barcelona.
She and her colleagues analyzed 1,040 cases and found English cocker spaniels to be most often involved in aggression cases, followed by Rottweilers, boxers, Yorkshire terriers and German shepherds, according to Discovery News.
The study, published in the latest Journal of Veterinary Behavior, also reported that golden varieties of the breed were more likely to act aggressively, as were males.
Amat noted that “inadequate handling by the owners” is a contributing factor.
The English cocker is a different breed than the smaller, American cocker — though both breeds, like other Spaniels, originated in Spain. The English Cocker Spaniel Club of America describes the breed as being “a homebody” that is “typically affectionate, loyal and reserved with strangers.”
Posted by John Woestendiek May 26th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: aggression, american cocker spaniel, autonomous university, barcelona, behavior, breeds, cocker spaniels, dog, dogs, english cocker spaniel, spain, spaniards, spaniels, study, veterinary
A wife who has seen two dogs take her place in bed, relegating her to the couch, complained to Dear Abby this week that dogs are ruining her marriage.
As Abby points out, when dogs come between a husband and wife, it’s probably because the space between husband and wife has become so massive that it needs to be filled with something.
And, to my way of thinking, a wagging tail of the canine variety is probably one of the healthiest and least harmful options.
Here’s what the advice-seeker wrote:
DEAR ABBY: I love dogs, but they’re ruining my marriage. “Ivan” and I have been together 12 years, married for five. Six years ago he had to put his aged, sickly pointer, “Sergeant,” to sleep.
Two years ago I began suggesting that we get another dog. I thought Ivan had mourned Sergeant long enough, and it was time for another. We found a lovely King Charles spaniel that we named Lili. We spent a lot of fun time with her that spring and summer, then thought a playmate might be good company for her during the day while we were at work. We found Branford, another spaniel.
Ivan began bringing the two dogs into our bedroom.
Guess where they’re sleeping today? IN the bed. Guess where I’m sleeping? On the couch.
We haven’t been out on a date since the dogs arrived. We don’t go out with friends because we must be back by 10 p.m. â€” the dogs’ bedtime, and Ivan’s, too, of course. He is oblivious to me from the time he goes to bed with the dogs. We haven’t had sex in a year.
Help! â€” Only His Wife
“..The dogs aren’t your problem,” Abby (or whoever now writes the column now) responded. “When a man would rather sleep with his dogs than his wife and ‘forgets’ about sex for a year, something is wrong with the marriage.
“So start looking for a licensed marriage counselor. If your husband won’t go with you, go alone. Something tells me you’re going to need all the emotional support you can get, because your marriage has gone to the bowwows.”