Since early this year, January or February, my wife and I have been getting up early on weekend mornings--like 6AM--so we can take our wonderful golden retriever Whiskey for a romp in the country.
We've settled on a rocky beach adjacent to Rye Playland amusement park, an isolated and quiet horseshoe where I stand atop the water-shaped stones and toss a small rubber bumper into the sea for Whiskey to do what comes naturally, retrieve.
Whiskey is all for this activity. In fact on the way down to the garage in our building she is fairly jumping out of her skin. She piles into the back seat and rustles around doing the doggy-equivalent of "are we there yet?" the whole way up to Rye.
She paces the backseat while we're on the FDR. She whimpers on the Deegan. She's wide-eyed and beside herself by the time we hit the Cross Bronx. Once we hit the last stretch, the New England Thruway, she's like an ADHD kid after eating a barrel of Skittles.
I pull into a spot and open the door. She gallops to the beach and fairly does backflips. "Let's go, old man," she says to me. "Let's go already!"
I sling the bumper as far as I can into the water and Whiskey gallops in, then swims the 20 or 30 yards out to the float. I've timed it. It takes her about 1:30 to get to the bumper and a little longer on the return swim.
Then, despite our efforts to train her to drop the toy at our feet, she romps on the sand, digging, rolling and burying. Today she found the carcass of a dead gull and had a chicken dinner with that. But I quickly retrieved she and her toy and out she went again.
We do this for two hours on Saturday and an hour and a half on Sunday when she starts off a little tired. Then we take a mile walk along the empty boardwalk while Whiskey dries off and has a drink of fresh water supplied by my wife. Then it's another mile back to the car.
Whiskey sleeps on the way home.
Dreaming puppy dreams of catching the goose that lays the golden egg. Or at least a dead seagull.