Can you believe that life got even better after my first day at the beach? Can you believe that I woke up the next morning and got to go back to the beach?
And can you believe that I was joined by friends? I had a Golden Beach Bash with eight of my Golden Retriever Instagram friends. It was the best day ever! We started gathering around 11 a.m. at Canova Beach Park, the only dog-friendly beach in Brevard County, Florida. It was a little chilly, slightly overcast, a bit drizzly, and the wind was blowing like crazy. But we didn’t care. That’s Sam on the far left, Brinkley, Carter, and Cupcake. I’m the one on the right with the super happy and totally silly grin.
The day was organized by my friend Carter’s mom. His mom is the hostess with the mostest. She made the fabulous reindeer bandanas for all of us. Isn’t Cater the most handsome boy ever? And why do I look like such a wet rat? Oh well, I didn’t care. I was at the beach . . . with friends . . . and it was the best day ever!
And if you think I was happy, just look at my humans. I would say they were in hog heaven, but it was more like dog heaven . . . Golden dog heaven. That’s my daddy kissing Carter with me hidden in the background . . .
. . . and there’s my mommy with Carter and Harper Lee bookends. More than two weeks have passed since that day, and Mommy still has that smile on her face.
That’s my daddy handing out treats. Carter’s in the middle getting a treat; I’m on the left; and Sam is on the right. It looks like Sam was getting ready to move closer so she could be in better treat-gathering position. I just look like I’m wondering why in the world Daddy is handing out treats to others. The humans distributed a lot of treats that day . . . when they weren’t snapping photos.
Believe it or not, Mommy didn’t take that many pictures. She was having too much fun hugging all of my friends. That’s Brinkley. Brinkley looks just about as happy about hugs as I am.
It’s not a real beach party until the new girl’s face is covered with sand. Just for the record, I was the new girl.
Carter, Cupcake, and I took a quick moment to pose with our reindeer antler headbands. I’m on the left, looking for my daddy at the other end of the beach; Cupcake’s on the right, looking toward the sky in hopes that treats will fall; and Carter’s in the middle, looking handsome for the camera. Can you tell which one of us is the show dog?
The party ended around 3 p.m. with a final group photo. Actually, the party ended with many, many, many attempts to get the perfect group photo. Finally, the humans abandoned any hopes for perfection and settled for fun. Fun is what you get with nine Golden Retrievers at the beach. In the front row, from left to right, that’s Riley, Sam, Cupcake, Brinkley, and Glory and Katie from Lakewood Golden Retrievers. I’m in the back row with Carter in the middle and Luna on the right (Luna and Riley are sister and brother, but they have different human families).
I had driven 760 miles across the Louisiana border and then through Mississippi, Alabama, and most of Florida. (Technically, I was chauffeured, but you know what I mean.) I had enjoyed a magical day in Melbourne, Florida. I put my toes in the sand and frolicked in the surf for the first time in my life. And then I got to spend a day at the beach with eight of the very best Golden Instagram friends ever. The next day, my friend Carter’s mom had a Christmas photo shoot planned for me (you’ll have to wait to see those photos). Then I would hop into the car and drive with my humans to Tampa for one night before heading back to Baton Rouge. But that night, after a wonderful day at the beach, I put my little head down, drifted off to la-la land, and had sweet dreams of my fabulous day . . . the best day ever!
It happened, friends. It really and truly finally happened. After driving 760 miles for 13 hours (we made a few stops), spending a relaxing night at the hotel, and a taking a leisurely morning stroll through historic downtown Melbourne, Florida, it finally happened. I made it to the beach. I put my toes in the sand, surveyed the waves, breathed in the ocean breeze, and glanced back at my humans as if to say, “Why didn’t we do this sooner?”
And then I headed straight for that water. For the first time in my life–after five years, eight months, and five days on this Earth–I was in the ocean. I think my human daddy was every bit as excited as I was.
We walked and walked and walked along dog-friendly Canova Beach Park. My humans kept telling each other how wonderful it was that I liked the beach and how great it was that I wanted to be in the water and how happy they were that the waves didn’t bother me. Seriously, humans? I’m a Golden Retriever. Of course I like the beach. I was just wondering why it took you so long to take me there.
And then, just like that, the humans told me that it was time to go. They were hungry and we needed to find a place to eat. What? They promised that we would return to the beach. My humans keep their promises, so I reluctantly agreed to join them for lunch.
So we headed back to downtown Melbourne and discovered dog-friendly La Crepe de France.
La Crepe is owned by Patrice Chaffaut from Brittany, France, and his lovely wife Celeste. Their sweet daughter Nadege was our waitress. You might be wondering why I look a little drunk in this photo.
Well, the very creative menu offers suggested craft beer and wine pairings for each crepe. Yum! I also had a bit of turkey from lovely Celeste, so it’s possible that the tryptophan tired me out (although I’ve heard that’s actually a myth). Mommy had the Parisian–smoked turkey, sliced apple, glazed walnuts, brie, and honey on a traditional white crepe–with La Chouffe Strong Pale Ale from Belgium. Are you drooling yet? Daddy enjoyed La Tarragon–chunks of chicken breast and organic mushrooms in a creamy tarragon sauce served on an organic buckwheat crepe–with another Belgian beer called Duvel. I know you’re drooling now. There’s a good chance that my humans would get back in the car and drive 760 miles to see Patrice, Celeste, and Nadege at La Crepe de France.
Thankfully my humans were able to roll themselves out of La Crepe so that we could go back to the beach.
Now I totally understand why my mommy is so crazy about the ocean.
Before we could leave the beach for the day, there was one last thing that we had to do. You might recall my dear, sweet Golden friend Bear. In August 2013, after Bear lost his battle to cancer, I wrote this about him in a post titled “Remembering Bear”:
Even though I live in South Louisiana and he lived in Southern California and more than 1,700 miles separated us and we never actually met, Bear was my friend . . . and he was special. Bear loved the beach. He called the ocean his, and it was. Last October, when Bear had tweeted several playful beach photos, I tweeted back that I loved the photos and I was with him in spirit, romping through the waves. I still love Bear’s response: “So glad! I’ll put you in my mind next time I go to the beach so you can come with me! BearHUG!!!”
This past May, Bear found out that he had cancer. His incredibly loving human mom and dad did everything they could to make him better. But perhaps more importantly they did everything they could to make Bear happy. Bear ate pizza. He swam in his ocean and he chased his tennis ball. Bear enjoyed dinner from Smashburger. He dressed up for opening day at Del Mar Racetrack. He visited his favorite park and he rolled in the grass. Saturday evening, my mommy read this tweet from Bear:
Woof bye anipals. I am going to see Fuzz & Oliver real soon. Thx for being my friends. #bearHUGs
My mommy hugged me, and she cried, and she cried, and she cried. And I knew that I had lost a friend. One day, Bear, I will visit the beach and I will put you in my mind so that you can come with me.
I had finally made it to the beach, and my humans and I put Bear in our minds and our hearts, and he was there with us.
It was quite a day, friends. But the best was yet to come. Stay tuned!
Things were a little odd around my house a couple of weeks ago. I couldn’t quite put my paw on it, but something was up. Mommy was spending a lot of time in the kitchen. At first she was making human food . . . not that interesting. And then she started making dog treats, which really got my attention.
She carefully packed all that human food and those yummy-smelling dog treats into this big red box. Wherever that big box was going, I wanted to go with it.
Then my travel crate appeared. I was definitely going somewhere . . . hopefully with that red box filled with dog treats.
My humans spent a lot of time studying this book. (Just for the record, my humans also looked at maps on the computer and on their phones. They’re not that old.) Hmmmm . . . why would my humans need to look at maps? Were we going somewhere new?
And then Mommy pulled out this little accessory. Could it really be true? Were we really going to the beach? Was I about to check an item off of my Golden Bucket List? I didn’t dare get my hopes up, but I must tell you that I was starting to get more than a little excited.
I was slightly less excited when, exactly one week before Thanksgiving, my humans gently nudged me prior to the break of dawn and whispered, “Miss Harper Lee, it’s time to wake up so we can start our excellent adventure.” It was still dark when we loaded my chariot. The chickens across the street weren’t even awake yet. That didn’t seem to bother my humans. We were off, and I was pretty happy that I have chauffeurs and I could get a little more sleep.
It seemed as if we had just pulled out of the driveway when my chariot stopped. My humans were oddly excited about something. “Wake up, Miss Harper Lee. We’re in Mississippi. You’ve never been to Mississippi before. Wake up so we can take a picture of you in front of the Welcome to Mississippi sign.” Naturally, I obliged. I knew from looking over my humans’ shoulders as they perused the road maps that Mississippi has beaches. Was this our destination? Apparently not, because after a few quick clicks of the camera and then several minutes of walking around while my humans said, over and over again, “Go potty, Miss Harper Lee. Go potty,” we were back in the chariot and back on the road.
Next stop: Alabama. Fortunately for me, the state welcome center was closed, so I got to sleep a few more miles before we reached the temporary welcome center. The nice welcome center lady invited me in, despite the fact that my daddy was wearing an LSU sweatshirt. Alabama and LSU are huge football rivals. I guess the welcome center lady was feeling charitable because Alabama beat LSU this year. Anyway, Mommy spotted this big mural and said, “Miss Harper Lee, sit here and practice your beach pose.” Yes! I knew I was going to the beach! I couldn’t help but smile as mommy snapped my picture. And then we got back into my chariot and continued to drive.
At our next stop, I saw this sign. I was in Florida . . . land of sun and sand. Miles and miles of beaches. When would I feel the sand between my toes? When would I frolic in the waves? Who else would be there? And just exactly where were we headed? Stay tuned . . .