Dogs help heal many wounds, why not reward them at the beach?

No matter how hard I try, I just can’t recall a time in my life when I didn’t own a dog.  As far as I’m concerned, a family is not complete unless there is one or more canines included in the clan … I love ‘em!   When I view photos of my younger years there’s always a dog nearby, it’s as though I just had to have one around me at all times.  I’m still that way, as much as possible anyways.

Someone once asked me why I loved dogs so much and my response was immediate,  “I love them so much because dogs always love me back, unconditionally.  It doesn’t matter how I look or what kind of mood I’m in, they are always happy to see me.  They are devoted and loyal companions who seem to have an indescribable ability to make me feel as if everything in life is okay.   There is nothing in this world which gives me that same feeling … absolutely nothing.”

My dog Taffy was there to snuggle and hug when I was just a little girl and needed to ease my nerves that first day of kindergarten.  Muffin was my friend during my early adolescent years, a time when I really needed one.  She watched a shy, young girl slowly become a sad, overweight teenager.   She really had a way of making me feel as if everything was okay and helped me forget about the daily “fat-kid” teasing I’d receive at school.   After a few years we added Biscuit to our family, one of Muffin’s puppies that I fell in love with.  I’ll admit that there was a bit of convincing on my part to keep her though, luckily my parents agreed that two dogs would be okay.  It was great to have a dog on each side of me if I ever had a terrible, horrible day.

Then there was Crescent, the sweet cockapoo I owned before and after my first child was born.  She seemed to listen intently when I complained about being tired, exhausted, unattractive, and lonesome during that time; she didn’t care how I looked or what kind of mood I was in … she was always my best friend and helped me feel much better.

My dog Sierra watched me go through some of the most incredible changes of my life .  She was probably about the best dog ever.  She loved all three of my children more than anything; honestly, I think she assumed that she was a kid herself!   Life with Sierra was great, and became even better when she started her new exercise routine in January 2001.  Sierra’s exercise routine was actually my walking routine, but she was walking with me every day for 1.5 miles and seemed to truly enjoy those 22 minutes of her day.

She walked off weight right along with me, motivating me to keep moving in her own doggy way.  Sierra didn’t walk off as much weight as I did, obviously she didn’t need to.  What she did do was extend her life; her veterinarian told me that dogs of her size don’t live past age twelve.  She surpassed that by more than three years!

I still wonder today if Sierra ever noticed those 162 pounds melt slowly off of “her mommy?”   It doesn’t really matter, I suppose, but I do know that she was always right by my side, doing all that she could to keep walking at a fast pace those last few days of her life.  I sure miss that dog, my loyal walking partner.  Sometimes it feels like she’s still there, right by my side and giving me that “you can do it” look of hers.

Today I have two amazing dogs, Skyla and Izzie, both of whom were adopted from The Humane Society of Southwestern Michigan.  They are two of my best friends and create more smiles and laughter in our home than I ever expected them to.   They both enjoy their daily walking routine as much as Sierra did, which I love.   But they do have one little issue,  they don’t like it when I leave the house without them.  They want to go with me wherever I go.   For many of my road trips, that just isn’t possible.

But during the summer months, they are allowed to take a road trip with me to one of my favorite places in the world … a beach along Lake Michigan!   It’s nice to know that my dogs are welcome at  these three beaches near me;  Hagar Park in Coloma, Grand Mere State Park in Stevensville and Warren Dunes State Park in Sawyer.

Dogs are allowed to enjoy a splash in the cool water along with their owners, sometimes swimming out to fetch their favorite stick followed by digging a few holes in the sand.  Dogs love it all and these activities provide great exercise too.  I like it because I know they aren’t missing me and lonely at home.  My dogs are allowed to come along to my mini-vacation spot and enjoy the beach as much as I do!

Isn’t it what they deserve, to spend quality time with their owners and enjoy life just as much as we do?  Yes they do!

Do you know of any dog-friendly beaches in your area of Michigan?  Please share.

Photo credit Jodi Davis

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