Monday, May 7, 2018

Of dog and duck.

There was a massive five-borough bike ride throughout New York on Sunday and the local newscasters were jabbering on about all kinds of traffic apocalypses turning the city's pock-marked highways into instead pock-marked parking lots.

Whiskey, my six-year-old golden retriever was downright melancholy over the prospect. Would this mean we'd be unable to pile into my 1966 Simca 1500 and drive up to the beach?

Whiskey paced the hardwood in our apartment and fretted. She chewed nervously at her bone and then paced some more. She was somewhat relieved when we took the elevator down to our garage and the Simca chugged into life.

I shifted into second (first gear seems to have dropped out of my gearbox, and I haven't had the time to take the car down to Lothar, the world's greatest Simca expert who runs a small repair shop out of his garage in Toms River, New Jersey.) I could see that the southbound lanes of the FDR were closed and filled instead with bicyclists, so I headed over to First Avenue and joined the beleaguered FDR up at 125th Street. 

In short order, I was driving over the Triboro, then onto the Bruckner, dodging elbow-deep potholes as we traversed the Bronx, through Port Morris, through Hunts Point, through Soundview and on our way to leafy Westchester and the beach.

Our preferred dog beach--Playland beach, a half-mile long white sand horseshoe is closed now for the season. But we've found a rocky littoral a mile north of Playland where the county police don't bother you if you get there early enough.

It's a rocky mess of a beach and at low tide, you're practically up to your ankles in a dark-brown sandy mud, or muddy sand. But if you've ever had a golden retriever you know that mud is their metier, and Whiskey, in just minutes was happily filthy.

Torn rotator cuff and all, I threw her duck into the sea, past the seaweed covered rocks. She dutifully galloped into the surf, then swam for her rubber canard. We did this about seven dozen times at which point Whiskey had punctured her toy with her sharp teeth and had begun to remove the white fuzz which had comprised the toy's essential duck-ness.

I threw the toy one more time, my best throw of the morning. If the Greek gods were watching they would think me Heracles, or Zeus himself hurling thunderbolts. The duck spun through the air and landed out in the sound, seemingly half-way to Glen Cove.

Neither my wife nor I could see it for the surf, but Whiskey, like Shackleton himself, or Stanley, or Livingstone, set out into the sea to track it down. She searched and searched, lifting her head out of the brine like a periscope. After ten minutes of swimming, she came back, empty-mawed.

She looked disconsolate. 

In all the years we have played "duck," she has never before failed to "bring home the bacon." Fortunately, we had a spare duck in the Simca's trunk, and with this in hand, or in mouth, Whiskey, like a noble heavy-weight pugilist, quickly forgot her defeat and once more, or ten times more, galloped into the breach.

After two hours of this, we dried her off and loaded her in the back of the Simca, where she fell fast asleep, dreaming happy doggy dreams of waves conquered and ducks captured.

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