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Photo title: Frond Frame

Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands.

Quote of the day: “The lonely one offers his hand too quickly to whomever he encounters.”  —  Friedrich Nietzsche

Daily gratitudes:
Being picky
Being patient
Embracing my aloneness
Having hope
My crazy new garden party shoes

Photo title: Magic Rocks

Devil’s Bay, Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands.

Quote of the day: “The efforts we make to escape from our destiny only serve to lead us into it.”  —  Ralph Waldo Emerson

Daily gratitudes:
Rushing rivers
Neon motels
Free spirits
Tin roofs
Rodeos

Photo title: A Dog’s Life

Virgin Gorda, British Virgin Islands.

Quote of the day: “If your eyes are blinded with your worries, you cannot see the beauty of the sunset.”  —  Jiddu Krishnamurti

Daily gratitudes:
Road trips
Balloons
Dogs
Small towns
Mountain vistas

In most cases, dogs and the beach go together like biscuits and gravy (which would be two good dog names.)

I never had dogs when I was growing up.  My father was not a dog person.  I might never have had the extreme joy and privilege of owning a dog were it not for Pat.  We had agreed after we bought the house that we would wait a year before getting a dog.  That lasted exactly three months, and we adopted Tug (best dog EVER).

I’d always liked dogs, just never had the opportunity to be around them much.  My friend Harriet had a mutt named Bilbo, who was pretty nice – a little hyper, but fun to romp with.  The lady who lived across the street had a seeing-eye German Shepherd named Queenie, who always barked at me when I went past, and made me kind of nervous. 

My early formative dog experiences were when I was around seven years old.  Our neighbors in the duplex next door had dogs – Mrs. McCullough had a puppy named Gremlin, who I was allowed to play with on the stoop after school (unless I had been bad).  The neighbors in the other side of the duplex had a Jack Russell mix named Ethelred, who liked to imitate ambulance sirens.  But one of my first and most memorable dog experiences came at Topsail that year.  I met a very nice young woman who was staying at the now-torn-down Florida Apartments, and she had a beautiful German Shepherd named Brandy.  We spent lots of time together during those weeks we were there, playing on the beach.  She let me come and feed him in the evenings (I thought Gravy Train was disgusting, and decided from watching commercials on TV that if I ever had a dog, I would feed him Ken-L-Ration, because it looked tastiest to me.  I must admit, though, I liked the little chuck wagon driving into the dog food bag on the Gravy Train commercials.  But now that I think about it, maybe that commercial was for Chuck Wagon.  Hmmm.)

I don’t remember the woman’s name, but she sent me a picture of myself in my little pink swimsuit, sitting on the beach petting Brandy.  I still have it.  I truly loved that dog, and I cried when they went home.

Since then, as I said, thanks to Pat, I’ve had dogs of my own.  Champ and Roscoe are our third and fourth dogs, and I still consider them mine, even if I don’t/can’t have custody.  But I’ve never had my own dog at a beach.  They’ve always been semi-adopted.

When Kelsea was about four, there was a dog next door to the beach house named Hank – a big, happy white Lab who liked to play with the sand crabs.  This past year, there was one pup who swam out to rescue us, even though we didn’t need rescuing, because it was just what he did – check on people in the water to be sure they were okay.

Dogs always seem so amazingly happy at the beach.  Room to run, water to play in, things to chase – the epitome of freedom.  Tug would have loved it, as he was always wading in creeks, rivers, drainage ditches, puddles.  J.T. was more skittish around water, so he might not have been such a fan.

My travels in the British Virgin Islands have led to many wonderful dog encounters.  Of course, first and foremost, are the Jost van Dyke dogs (known as potcakes or coconut retrievers).  They belong to everyone and no one, but are always fed and housed somewhere.  Trixie, whose recent passing I am still mourning, was the queen of Jost.  Dog-in-residence at the Soggy Dollar Bar/Sandcastle Hotel, she spent her time lying in the sand, being cuddled by the owners and the occasional special guest like my friend Diane, and being petted by thousands of day-trippers.  We always had our special goodbyes, she and I, those moments before I left, when we would look into each other’s eyes as I rubbed her little belly.  She joined every table at dinner and at breakfast, just to say hello, never to beg. 

Trixie 1

Chi-Chi is probably my personal favorite.  He has a bum leg, but still manages to get around just fine with his awkward gait, bustling from White Bay to Great Harbour throughout the day.  He liked to come sit with me on quiet mornings in my hammock, or at my feet on the lounge chair, and just look at the blue of the water.  When I stayed at Sandcastle, he would come to my cottage for naps.  I remember one afternoon when I had let him out after he had napped in the chair as I was dressing for dinner.  I opened the door to leave and there he was again, right on the mat – with two of his potcake friends.  Apparently, he had let them know that this cabin was the place to be.

Chi Chi 2

Paco has been the center of melodrama – I’m not sure if he’s still on island.  Prior to my last visit, I had heard that he’d been killed, which saddened but did not surprise me, as the locals do not like the island dogs (and vice versa).  But upon my arrival, I was told that he had actually been smuggled off the island because he was is such danger from one particular local – sort of like a doggie witness protection program – and was now living happily and safely with a family.

The previous managers of the Soggy Dollar had a black lab named (appropriately) Dollar.  I didn’t know Dollar well, as he spent much of his time with Sandy the manager.  She and Roger have since moved on to greener pastures, and I expect they took Dollar with them, as I know what an animal lover Sandy is.

Dollar

On my second stay there, I recall meeting a sailor with an adorable puppy in his arms.  He was from Canada and he and his wife had adopted the dog, and then sailed away on their boat.  The puppy loved everything about the beach and sailing.  He particularly loved eating all of the furniture in the salon and all the teak on the boat.  The husband was ashore with the puppy while the wife was having some “quiet time” aboard.  I believe the husband was actually saving the puppy’s life and the wife’s sanity.

There were also several dogs who would lead tourists to the Bubbly Pool on the east end of Jost.  I encountered different dogs at different times, but they would always meet you at Taboo (the restaurant) and take you down the path, stopping to wait for you to catch up if they lost sight of you.  Once you arrived, the dog would depart, but would generally return after a time to lead you back.  I don’t know if they’re still hanging around – I’d heard that the lead dog had been poisoned –  but they were certainly helpful.

The remaining Jost dog-character is Taboo, Foxy’s black lab (no doubt related to Dollar).  Taboo is one cool cat.  Can you use that term when talking about a dog?  He’s big and loves to roll around in the water and then come rub his sandy self up against you.  He also likes to abscond with flip-flops – he’s done so with mine.  He doesn’t eat them, just nuzzles them.

Taboo

Island hopping, we move on to Virgin Gorda.  When we stayed on Virgin Gorda in May, we were befriended by the resident dogs at Guavaberry: Soca and Pearl.  They were wonderful. They loved to play with their toys and roll in dead seagulls.  Always there to greet us when we came down to the beach (unless they were asleep on their beds at the hotel office), they would follow us, even as we climbed around on the giant rocks.  Soca was particularly faithful and protective.  He followed us on a climb that I would have thought impossible for a dog, barking to let us know when he couldn’t see us anymore, or was having trouble finding a doggie-foothold.  They both came back to the cottage with us on a couple of occasions, with Soca dozing in the shade on our porch.  As that was really my only stay on VG, I can’t say I’ve become acquainted with any of the island’s other pups, but I’m sure they are many and marvelous.

Soca and Pearl

Finally, we jump off to Anegada.  Ah, Anegada.  On my first trip there, I had the privilege of meeting Rambo.  Rambo was a potcake like Trixie.  In fact, they looked remarkably similar, except Rambo was older and chubbier.  He was doted on by the Soares family and was indeed a little love.  Sadly, he was accidentally run over while sleeping underneath a local cab.  Many tears were shed. 

Rambo

Other notable pups on the white sands have been Boats, another adorable white lab who was, as his name suggests, a boat dog. 

Boats

There was Belle and Alex’s semi-pitbull who ate one of my favorite flip-flops. (It was my fault, as I forgot them there when heading home one night.  I must say that it’s wonderful to be in a place where you can actually forget your shoes and not notice until the next morning.)  He was apparently only a passing fancy, as I never saw him again.  And there was Shoe-Stealer from our last trip.  I can’t recall his name, but he played an exquisite game of keep-away with a flip-flop. 

Flip Flop Dog

That about sums up the cast of canine characters.  Now, beach cats are another story…

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