The long grass is waving in the breeze as we make our way through the dunes. My paws sink into the sand as we climb to the top. Pearl pricks her ears and twitches her nose. A rabbit scurries away through the undergrowth.
The tide is out and the morning mist is beginning to lift. The sands below look made for running.
I love these quiet mornings when me and my best buddies have the whole beach to ourselves. I love being part of our pack. We all look out for each other and Pearl loves to lead. Pearl is happiest when there are no other dogs around.
The busiest part of the beach is near the car park. Some people come here once a week with an over-excited, under-exercised dog who has been cooped up all week. These dogs are often out of control. They barge into other dogs, knock people over and steel balls. They snap and bite and are no fun to be around.
We love the quieter part of the beach, away from the car parks. Life is good here.
Pearl and I are racing each other when we hear a barking dog and raised voices from behind the dunes. Pearl stops and pricks her ears.
A woman in blue jeans with long blond hair appears from the dunes with a black, long-haired dog on the lead. The dog is stretching her neck towards us with her ears pointing forward.
We greet her in a polite curve, noses touching the ground. When she has greeted and sniffed us all the woman lets her off the lead while wiping a tear from her eye with the sleeve of her jumper.
“What happened there?” asks our companion.
“Oh, this horrible man with his two collies,” says the woman. “He knows Gracie is a nervous dog, but he always lets those blasted collies stare at her and run towards her when she is on the lead. So she barks. She sees them as a threat and she is frightened. I move between Gracie and the collies and keep her on my outside to create some space. And then this man starts shouting at Gracie, giving her an angry stare and wagging his finger. So she gets even more frightened.
He’s done this before and I never said anything. He’s been getting worse and worse and more aggressive towards Gracie over time. And today … today I couldn’t take it anymore and I snapped. And then he threw all his anger at me. It was horrible, so horrible.”
The tears are streaming down the woman’s face and I put my paw on her leg. The woman crouches down and strokes my head.
“You’re a sweet boy,” she says. “I just feel so helpless sometimes. I’ve had Gracie nearly two years now. She was so sweet when I met her at the shelter. But she’s been so reactive with other dogs it feels as if we’re not making any progress.”
“You’ve probably made a lot of progress already and these things take time. It is understandable she gets frightened when other dogs charge towards her when she is on the lead. You seem to have a lot of awareness of what triggers a reaction and then you know how you have to intervene. That man was wrong to scold her for being frightened. He seems to have little understanding of how he is making the situation worse and you don’t have to accept that kind of behaviour. You were right to stand your ground.”
“I know, I know. I’m sorry. It’s sometimes easy to forget how much we’ve both learned already.”
Seamus is sniffing a piece of drift wood and I trot over to Gracie and ask her how she’s doing.
“I’m good,” says Gracie. “The collies and the scary man are gone now. I love coming to this part of the beach, especially when it’s quiet.”
“How long have you been in the shelter?” asks Pearl.
“Not very long. The humans were very nice. One day my companion-to-be looked at me through the glass when I was playing with a toy. She looked lonely. She looked like she had a lot of love to give and no one to give it too. She also looked as if she was giving her own power away and putting her happiness in the hands of others. I felt that she needed a buddy. She needed a buddy who could help her reclaim the lost parts of herself and make her whole again. I wanted to rescue her.
I walked towards her and put my paw on the glass. She put her hand on the other side of the glass, against my paw. I blinked at her and wagged my tail. She blinked at me and smiled. She asked a staff member if she could go into my kennel and I licked her whole face. We have been buddies ever since and we are both learning from each other.”
That is a lovely story. She looks as if she needs your help and she also looks as if she loves you very much.
“I know,” says Gracie. “I love her very much too. We are buddies for life now.”
Just like Seamus, Pearl and our companions are my buddies for life. I am so grateful for my buddies. And we can all be a buddy to someone else in times of need.
I send you all so much love,
Daily Prompt: Buddy