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
Age: 20 months
Encountered: Sitting with her owner outside Port City Java in Wilmington, North Carolina
Backstory: Jolie visits the coffee shop with her owner almost every day. She’s lively, and still puppy-like, but didn’t blink an eye when thunder and lightning rolled through. She’s her owner’s fourth boxer, and has a reverse brindle coat, meaning she’s predominantly black with some brown, as opposed to predominantly brown with some black. Her owner made it a point not to get another fawn-colored boxer, like his last, thinking that might lead to him comparing her too often with his former dog. He was clearly a big-time dog-lover. “God really knew what he or she was doing,” he said, “when he or she made dog.”
(Roadside Encounters is a regular feature of “Dog’s Country,” the continuing account of one man and one dog spending six months criss-crossing America.)
Posted by John Woestendiek August 8th, 2010 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, breeds, dog's country, dogs, dogscountry, encounters, north carolina, ohmidog!, pets, port city java, road trip, roadside, roadside encounters, travel, traveling with dogs, wilmington
While a Delaware police department worried about the fate of one of its police dogs — shot in the line of duty last week — it suddenly lost another one.
Bandit, a 6-year-old German shepherd who had served four years in the K-9 unit of the New Castle County Police Department, was euthanized Monday after being diagnosed with an inoperable brain tumor, according to Delmarvanow.com.
The dog had worked Saturday, and became ill Sunday night. He was rushed to the University of Pennsylvania Veterinary Hospital — the same hospital where another of the department’s dogs, Diablo, was being treated for two gunshot wounds sustained in the line of duty four days earlier.
Diablo was shot twice last Wednesday in Wilmington while chasing down a suspect who police said had threatened to kill his ex-girlfriend. Diablo, who developed pneumonia at the hospital, remains in stable condition.
Bandit was surrounded by his handler Cpl. Paul Chickadel, family and friends when he died, police officials said.
In 2008, Bandit sniffed out $32,445 in connection with drug investigations, responding to 389 canine calls and assisting in four arrests. In June, the team was certified in narcotics detection, tracking and patrol work by the National Police Canine Association.
The department said arrangements have not been finalized for a memorial service.
Posted by John Woestendiek November 19th, 2009 under Muttsblog.
Tags: bandit, brain tumor, dead, death, delaware, diablo, dog, dogs, euthanasia, euthanized, german shepherd, hospital, K-9, k9, new castle county, pollice, shooting, shot, tumor, university of pennsylvania, veterinary, wilmington