As is my family’s now yearly tradition, last week I expertly packed the car, loaded the family up, and we headed east to the beautiful coast of North Carolina for a week of fun, relaxation and family bonding.
My “son” — the furry four-legged one named Charlie — was about as excited as my two daughters were. It’s always funny to see the excitement and anticipation in Charlie’s manners and expression when he thinks he, too, will be invited on the journey. The journey may be just around the corner to get ice cream or, in this case, four hours away; it doesn’t matter as long as he gets to go with his family.
I could tell you about all the stops we made along the way in an effort to annoy Dad and make the four-hour drive seem like a trip to California. As Charlie marked his spot at one stop, I thought of the World War II GI’s who would scribe a cartoon and the tagline across Europe “Kilroy was here.”
As we finally neared our destination, crossing the bridge to the island, I rolled the window down and let Charlie take in the warm, salt-water breezes. Ears flapping, nose to the wind, he turned to me with a smile and a look in his eyes of “We are so going to have fun.”
The car unloaded, the girls and wife in place and assimilating to the new routine, it was time for me to take Chuck for a short jaunt. The early evening southwesterly breeze brought us the scents of far away grills, fried dough and “that beach smell.” So excited to get out and walk, Charlie could hardly stay in one place to accept his walking harness.
“All set, buddy?” I asked. He turned his head, and with a wink and a woof, we both knew it was our week together.
Over the past year, my midsection growth has outpaced my ability to control it. I have a belly and I need to get rid of it. Exercise and diet are the cure for such ills, and exercise is what I promised Charlie.
Every morning, I would harness Charlie up, put on my running shoes, and we were off to get a few miles in. Charlie’s excitement resonated across the morning quiet, awakening all but the most tired. Every morning, with what I can only describe as a mixture of a bark, a yelp and a cry of joy emanating every few steps, we made a 2-mile trek around our beach neighborhood.
I am in awe that this loud-pitched happiness can come from that little dog’s body, but the other dogs on their own walks paid scant attention to his musings.
Upon returning back at the homestead, I would then take the beach equipment down and set it up, readying our claim for the girls and my wife to enjoy the beach. Charlie would sit patiently at home, where I assume he chased birds and lizards around the yard and napped.
The evenings brought Charlie undivided attention from my daughters. The same daughters who are typically attached to their iPads now turned their attention to tug-of-war with Charlie, hide and seek, and the “chase me” game. This is a game wherein Charlie steals a flip flop or doll from one of us and then “lets” us chase him around.
Each night, tired, belly full of even more delicious food scraps, worn out from play and attention, Charlie would curl up in front of the TV, and fall into a deep, deep sleep. I imagine he dreams it could be the “dog days of summer” every day.