Sand in Her Fur

Rain went to the beach for the first time this summer.

It was fairly uneventful, other than the fact that we were taking a five year old dog to the beach who had never been there before.

We went to Manzanita, a smallish town with a walkable downtown and cutesy shops. It took a little effort to get her to the beach, given that she was barking at other leashed dogs on the sidewalk in town. Once unencumbered by her leash and with her paws in the sand, Rain had a great time.

We hung out for three or four hours. Most of the time she was playing ball, but she also got to meet strangers who wanted to come see her, some of whom had dogs she also met. I walked her down to the water a couple of times. She enjoyed running through the large pools of salty water that had been left behind by a receding tide, but disliked the water that moved toward her.

During these several hours she laid down just once, when I told her to, and for less than a minute. Australian shepherds are known for their ability to work all day. Even so, Rain was already displaying a hypervigilance that was likely related to her inexperience out in the world. That was part of the reason for this trip—to start exposing her to new things so she could be a more well-rounded doggy. This is known as socialization, and it’s a big part of the “project” I speak of when I call her my “project dog.”

The good news was that after several hours of playing ball, Rain was more relaxed as we walked back to the car. The crowds had died down a bit, which helped. Rain even got to meet a few admirers in front of the local pet store! Afterward, she climbed in the car and slept most of the way home.

Oregon’s coast is rarely as nice as it was on this day, so our next beach trip will likely be punctuated by raindrops and cold wind. At least Rain will have some concept of where she is, and it will be a place where she had a good first experience.

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