Oh, joy! Oh, bliss! Oh, happy happy day, when a dog may romp and run free, unfettered by leash or law! Poor dogs; they were made to run – well, most of them; I daresay a bulldog would beg to disagree; but for most canines in modern times, time off the leash, unfenced, unfettered, is hard to come by. A free-roaming dog can be a nuisance, occasionally a menace, sometimes, sadly, a pathetic heap in the road. We confine and circumscribe them for their good and our own, and mostly they adapt and cope. But do they not, now and then, pine for freedom to run?
In my town of Ipswich, there is a time and a place for such glorious liberty. The vast sandflat sweep of Crane Beach is thrown open to Canine Americans and their attendant humans every year, from October 1 through March 31, and while part of the beach still requires the four-legs to be leashed (though there are always owners who ignore such strictures), one end of the beach is officially a leash-free zone.
The day after Thanksgiving, brilliantly blue-skyed, tolerably warm, light-breezy pleasant, I went for a walk there, and had a ball watching the dogs have a ball.
The first reaction once the dog realizes the leash has been unclipped is usually a gleeful bolt, flat-out, all the pent-up RUN! exploding across the vast inviting sand.
It’s true some of the more sedate fellows will take off in a stroll rather than a cavalry charge, especially with a newfound buddy along.
And some dogs, well, they’re just not built for ballistics.
But running running running – well, that’s the whole point of a no-leash zone, isn’t it? The dogs certainly think so.
They make new friends, too.
And so the solitary dog, packless at home save for its human, gets to play with a packmate, to romp and run with a temporary soulmate.
Some dogs find the beach itself fascinating – the strange new textures underfoot, the strange new smells assailing the nose.
And then there’s The Tennis Ball of Bliss.
The Object of Desire hurled by their human – Chase it!
Don’t let it escape!
Bring it back and do it again!
There was a boxer on the beach who was passionate about the fetch game, utterly obsessed with the ratty old frisbee his human flung for him.
And I do mean ratty.
He locked onto each toss like an outfielder running down a high fly ball.
He timed his leaps perfectly.
Even another dog racing to intercept couldn’t throw him off his laser-precise aim.
No way he was letting an intruder have his toy, nossirree.
No, that ratty old thing was HIS ratty old thing, and the boxer was proud of it.
Matter of fact, every dog playing fetch was joyfully into the game, from the pursuit...
...to the capture...
...to the triumphant return.
Yep, it’s a dog’s life on the beach, and it’s a damn fine life for a dog.