Monday, November 3, 2014

It's a Dog's World

We just got back from a fabulous week in Duck, N.C. Hosted by our dear friends Martin and Jenn, this annual vacation has become a wonderful October tradition that includes Jenn's son Steven and his wife Lauren, as well as various other guests each year. We see beautiful sunsets, cook a ton of food, eat too much (including dozens of Duck Donuts), take a lot of pictures, watch World Series games, carve pumpkins, don masks and act silly, and, best of all, laugh a lot.

But this year's trip, while it included all of the usual favorites mentioned above, added a new element--three dogs: Charlie and Cooper, Jack Russell terriers who are just under two years old, and Jodie, our four-year-old yellow Lab. Charlie belongs to Martin and Jenn, and his littermate Cooper belongs to Steve and Lauren.




Initially, we had some reservations about the dynamics of this trio, but they ended up surprising us with how good they were and teaching us some lessons along the way.

Cooper and Charlie get together often when their families exchange pet-sitting services, but Jodie is an "only dog." We worried that she would be overwhelmed by the terriers' energy, but she adored all the attention they gave her (even Cooper's over-zealous romantic moves), and when she had had too much of their wrestling, she simply exerted a heavy paw or flipped them away with her big blocky head. She never growled or got mad. Several times, she took Charlie's entire head in her mouth, but she didn't clamp down.

Lesson: Invite new people into your life and don't make assumptions based on looks or stereotypes about how they'll fit in. And always be gentle.


The dogs not only entertained us in the house but also brought us together in new ways.  Lauren and I took several long walks together with the three dogs, and one day, all six dog owners went to the beach together so we could watch the dogs play and take pictures of them.

The dogs definitely added responsibilities that we wouldn't have had without them, but they also brought us a lot of pleasure:

Lesson: Like other people, dogs complicate our lives, but they also enrich our lives. Without them, we'd be pretty lonely, and they're worth the effort it takes to include them in our lives and get along with them.


We don't let Jodie beg at the table, and we don't feed her from our plates. We kept our rules pretty well in place on vacation, but her kibble was supplemented with some pretty tasty leftovers, including bacon, eggs, and London broil.  "Aunt Jennie" also brought along quite an assortment of treats that were dispensed throughout the day, including special dog sandwich cookies served as dessert:

Lesson: Everyone eats too much on vacation--we just have to be a little more active to burn it off. And there's always next week....


Jodie also got me out to explore places I've never been, even though we've been to OBX almost a dozen times. One morning, we saw this amazing piebald deer in a wooded lot next to a house:

And we passed this cute little house called "Quacker Box":

Without Jodie, I probably would have just run three or four miles on the boardwalk or on the path around the neighborhood across the street from where we were staying.

Lesson: Don't get in a rut. Explore.


At home, Jodie goes for a four-mile walk with either me or Doug every morning. Then she comes home and sleeps for several hours.  At OBX, she got back from her morning walk, and her little boyfriends were waiting for her, although sometimes they managed to play by themselves:

But she didn't have a chance to nap until she got home. On our first day back, she rested all day in front of the fireplace.

Lesson: Sometimes you need another vacation to recover from your vacation.


As we were packing the car and getting ready to leave on Saturday, Jodie finally got tired of following us in and out of the house. She laid down in the driveway with kind of a sad look.

Lesson: Even the best vacations have to come to an end.

Note: I am indebted to Doug Baker and Steve Foley for most of the photos in this post.

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