The beach is one of my favorite places, when it isn’t full of tourists. I grew up five minutes from the beach but you will rarely catch me there during the summer because I can’t take the crowds. The Jersey shore is gorgeous when the sand is empty and the waves crash onto the snowy beach.
However, I make one exception to the “no beach in the summer rule”. The dog beach. We are lucky in NJ that there are a few official (and a a few unofficial) dog beaches that allow dogs to run and play off-leash. It’s a glorious thing to see a stretch of sand full of romping dogs of all sizes, running in the surf and digging in the sand. So this weekend we headed down to my in-laws for a day at the dog beach.
Last summer we brought Dublin and Bailey to the same dog beach and Bailey spent the whole time hiding from the water. She walked to the edge of the water and ran away every time it creeped closer to her paws. Dublin, on the other hand, was and is an old pro. He races down the beach, trying to catch birds, swims and fetched sticks in the ocean, rides the waves back to the shore, and digs in the sand. We were hoping that this year he would rub off on Bailey.
As soon as we arrived, 4 adults and three dogs (two Aussies and a Cocker Spaniel), Dublin took off down the beach. He was in the water almost immediately. Bailey was a little slower to acclimate. She raced after Dublin and even ventured into the water. But as soon as a wave came crashing to the shore, she was gone like a rocket. Colbie, my in-laws’ Cocker Spaniel, was even more hesitant. She’s very pretty and likes to stay that way, so she would walk along the edge of the water and then head back to the dry sand where she would lay in the sun.
Dublin, Chris, and I spent a lot of time playing in fetch in the water while Bailey looked on from the shore. Eventually, she slowly made her way out to chest deep water, waiting for us to make our way to her. Then, she followed Chris through the water, trying to walk exactly where he walked, as if he was carving a path in the snow.
But then, she did it! Bailey swims in the pool (with some prodding from me), in the river (with no prodding needed!), and even behaves in the bath. But the ocean was just too scary until this weekend. After following us in, watching Dublin swim, and realizing he was getting to play fetch without her, she dove in!
Bringing both Aussies anywhere together can be stressful, because Bailey is a bit bossy and likes to harass Dublin in public. She’s a bully and I swear she riles all the other dogs up, telling them to beat up her brother. I get a little stressed out. But she has been doing better lately and sometimes she even lets Dublin have fun when we are out together! I was a little worried about the beach, because I thought she would be jealous of all the swimming Dublin was doing (without her) and would take out her frustrations on him when he got back on dry land. Thankfully, she didn’t! She ran after him a few times, they wrestled a little, but she didn’t draw any other dogs into it. I think that’s a first! Maybe she is maturing?
My favorite part of the day was that towards the end, a group of people claimed the sand next to us. They had 2 Bernese Mountain dogs, a terrier mix, and another mixed breed. Oh, and they brought a volleyball net. Yes, they thought that they could play volleyball on a dog beach, undisturbed. I don’t think they spent a lot of time around dogs. Or maybe none of their dogs were particularly into balls?
Needless to say, they obviously don’t know Bailey.
Spending the day at the beach with the dogs was absolutely fantastic. They were exhausted when we came home (as were Chris and I!) and had so much fun. I’ll end this post with a few more photos from the day.
Nothing beats the “real” Jersey Shore. Dogs, sun, sand, and surf are all you need to relax. No bars, no clubs, no tanning necessary. Just a smile, an affinity for fetch, and lots of energy to walk up and down the beach. No sunning on a towel here! Oh, and a chair is a good idea, because it’s not unheard of to have a male dog “mark” your beach bag if it’s left on the sand. Just one of the rituals of the dog beach!