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Taking the Dog for a Swim

Sep 18, 2008
Kimmy Sophia Brown

We have a yellow lab who loves to swim. About once a week we try to take her swimming at a lake or river near the house. We say, “Bye, bye in the car?” And she cocks her head and begins to cry excitedly, trotting back and forth in eager anticipation.

We drive to the pond nearby where all the locals go with their kids. It looks more like a lake than a pond. I usually equate the word “pond” with “scum” but this place is surrounded by pines, and has a shallow end that goes out for about two hundred feet. It is really a small lake, and quite picturesque. It’s a dandy place to bring little kids. People sit in the twelve-inch-deep water in their lawn chairs. Overweight ladies sit and smoke while their little kids splash, wearing water-wings or life jackets. They stand on rocks and yell, “Cowabunga”. They shiver. They crawl along the water, their hands walking along the bottom, their little legs kicking behind while they scream, “Look at me Ma, I’m swimming! LOOKITME!!!”

My kids are comparatively big now. We used to go to what we called, “The Donut Beach”. We lived in Virginia Beach and a Dunkin Donuts stood a block from the Chesapeake Bay. We went through the drive thru and we got a dozen donuts before we went to the beach. Often it was very pleasant there. This was before all the dunes were bulldozed into hideous condos. Once in a while a ship emptied its bilge tank off shore. On those occasions it smelled bad and a foul blend of crud washed up on the beach and we had to go home. Sometimes there was an infestation of jelly fish. We found out their stings really hurt! Many evenings though, when our kids were young, we all went there after work and floated on boogie boards and played in the gentle waves. Just before we left Virginia Beach we learned that sharks feed at dusk. I can’t believe how stupid we were. One September evening we went to the ocean at Sandbridge Beach and played in the waves as night fell. Grace mentioned that she had an ominous feeling. Terrifyingly, a few days later, a boy was bitten and killed by a shark at that very beach.

Fast forward to a lovely September day in Maine. Two of my teenage boys and my teenage daughter are swimming in the lake with our lab. She is bounding after a stick they throw. Great fun all around. The wind is blowing and the waves are lapping in. It is lovely and green as we sit under the trees. The pines smell pure and the light is dazzling on the water. There are no mosquitoes, no gnats. The day is calm. A few yards away a little boy with blond hair cut into a Mohawk, and his little brother, splash and jump in their knee length swim trunks. They have cute, soft round bellies. They wave their little skinny arms into the air and splash. Their moms smoke and laugh. We throw the stick for Indi again and again, staying far enough away so her bounding doesn’t scare them.

Then she gallops toward the shore through the water. Coughing. Coughing. Then gagging. Really gagging. Then vomiting. All the dog food from the day has spewed into the water like brown frogs’ eggs. The undigested kibble floats toward the shore until it lands like patrols on the beach at Normandy. Washing up, floating, drowned. None of the other swimmers notice what has happened.

We decide this is a good time to leave. I motion wildly to the children. Let’s go, let’s go. No one sees the little gift we’re leaving behind. Hopefully the fish will benefit. Come little fishies, come! We’ve left you a goody!

Kimmy Sophia Brown has loved humor and music and freedom for as long as she can remember.She is especially passionate about the environment and caring for animals.

She writes the column "From the Back Porch" as well as reviews of music in her column "MusicViews". Her goal in her music reviews is to introduce music she loves to people who may not have heard that particular artist or CD. For information about how to submit a CD for review, click here.

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