Angie and I took our dogs, Franny and Zooey, to the dog beach yesterday. There's a couple around, apparently, but we took them to the one in Long Beach. Zooey, who turns 12 this year, had been to one before but Franny, who is 18 months old, never has.
The dog beach, much like dog parks, are wonderful things - unbridled, absolute and rampant joy for the dogs. The one thing that makes dogs act a little wonky at times is territorialism. They want to protect their space. You see, dogs have to have a job. They need a job. And often times their job, in their minds, is to protect the house, the land, the trailer, the shack, the yard, whatever. They truly think this is their job. It is why they get fed and are kept around. Of course, that's mostly not true, but that's what they think. For example, our dogs are under the impression that everyday around 4:00 a guy in a uniform and a pith helmut tries to break into our house. Same guy, everyday. They must keep him out. So far they've been successful. Not once has he made it past the mailbox. While they are otherwise happy, passive, loveable, kind and playful dogs, for that minute and a half or so, they gather their aggressive resources, dig deep into their genetic memories and bare their small teeth and stand immovable and determined at the front door, growling and posturing. Once the pith helmut-wearing scofflaw has retreated, they once again become the tail-wagging souls they really are. They've done their job for the day.
But at the dog beach there is no territory to defend. The dog beach doesn't belong to anyone so it's okay if other dogs and people hang out and walk around. They couldn't care less. In fact, they go out of their way to be as friendly as possible to all the other dogs and their owners. The dog beach is sort of the living embodiment of John Lennon's song, Imagine, except the lyrics apply to dogs.
Franny had never seen the ocean. He was a little bamboozled by it. Not threatened or frightened really, just wary. Zooey, having been there before, plunged right in without even a how-do-you-do. I remember the first time I saw the ocean. I was about 23 or so. As I sat and gazed over the Pacific, I remembered a line George Burns once used about it, "It's smaller than I thought it would be." That always makes me laugh.
To be honest, I was a little grouchy yesterday on the way to the dog beach. There are some professional things going on, career things, that aren't moving fast enough for me and I was having a hard time letting everything go yesterday. But the moment our dogs hit the beach, wild-eyed with joy and surprise, it all ebbed away.
Later, as Angie and I sat having lunch at a curbside restaurant, the dogs sitting at our feet, we began talking about 'what's important' in our lives. She asked me what I thought was important. I said, "this."
We've decided to make the trip to Long Beach and that stretch of doggy inhabited sand a regular thing in our schedule. Maybe twice a month or so. And I think it's worth it. Our dogs are, generally speaking, a pretty happy pair but I've never seen them quite SO happy as they were yesterday. For that alone, we'll return.
There's something terribly euphoric about watching a bunch of dogs play together. There are no agendas, no ulterior motives, no envy or mean-spiritedness, no cynicism or passive-aggression, just moment-to-moment fun. I liked that a lot. And the owners, in an unpremeditated minute of surrender, sort of fell into the same trance. At least we did. It would be nice to see that more often in life.
Today, the start of the new week, it's back to memorizing the next chunk of words for a new film I'm doing in a couple weeks and then once finished with that, laying out my 'scenes' for the new screenplay (which has me stuck at the moment) and then off to read for another possible gig. But in my mind, I'm still at the dog beach.
See you tomorrow.