We were on the beach yesterday — a reasonable move, I think, with the temperature up over 100 — when Romeo, our neighbor’s nosey little Yorkie, came scooting over as fast as his tiny legs could carry him to check things out at our little sand chair community. Seeing Romeo enjoying life on the beach gave me a sharp pang of guilt: I thought about another little doggy — our very own Ricky — whom we’ve been leaving home in Connecticut on weekends, instead of bringing him out to Montauk as we used to do every other summer. I said to my wife, “I kinda feel like we’ve disowned him.”
And there’s a lot I’m sure Ricky’s missing out on. In past summers he’d go nuts with excitement when he realized, after watching the car being packed up, that he was going, too! He loved the drive: couldn’t care less about the endless traffic on 27 East — for him, it just meant more peaceful snooze time. He loved sniffing the dunes, and the shells, and the poop of other Montauk dogs, instead of the same-old-same-old smells of Westport. He loved hanging out with his beach pals — Beau and Bear and Elvis and, of course, Romeo.
But when the other dogs would go romping in the waves, Ricky would slam on the brakes. No body surfing for this beagle! Not being a water dog, he’d lie in the sand, trying (unsuccessfully) to keep cool in the shadow of our sand chairs. He’d desperately search for discarded peach pits and bread crusts in the sand — but then he’d swallow the sand with the scraps, and get terrible stomach aches. He’d constantly wander off to neighboring blankets, trying to trade on his good looks and winning ways to maybe snag half a salami sandwich — and then he’d constantly have to be dragged back, kicking and screaming.
At the house, where it feels like we always have between 18 and 8,000 guests and where appetizing cold cuts are out on the kitchen counter 24/7 and where a two-grill barbecue is the dinner-time norm, Ricky would be endlessly shoved away from the kitchen, and away from the hot coals, and away from the dinner table — and ultimately would be quarantined in a bedroom to keep him out of harm’s way.
Somehow, that all didn’t seem to add up to a fun weekend for a little beagle whose only sin is to be endlessly hungry.
So after 7 years of that routine, this summer we started leaving Ricky home with Luz, our housekeeper, and Ricky’s patron saint. (More about Ricky and St. Luz in an upcoming post.) Yes, Ricky still acts a little nervous these days when we pack up for Montauk, since he’s not sure if he’s coming or being left behind . . .
But after we leave, I’m guessing he rubs his two paws together, high-fives Luz, and does a nifty little endzone celebration over the amazing weekend he has ahead of him: Forty-eight hours of St. Luz’s undivided attention. Treats for peeing outside, treats for pooping outside, treats for . . . being. Constant lively conversation. Leisurely walks up and down Main Street, where he’s treated like royalty. Playing with Nena, the chihuahua, Luz’s other charge. Being on the receiving end of a never-ending supply of new squeaky toys. I’ll bet Ricky’s reaction when he hears the sound of our car pulling into the driveway late Sunday night is, Back so soon? Bummer.
So maybe I shouldn’t feel bad about leaving Ricky behind. Maybe it’s coming home that I should apologize for.