Last Sunday, my husband, Tom, our Wheaten Terrier, Murphy, and I went walking on the beach. The day had been beautiful. The Hood to Coast Relay was finished and the participants were leaving town. When we first moved to Seaside over five years ago, we went to the beach almost every day. We had spent the previous 16 years in Colorado and Kansas and were happy to be back home in Oregon. As the years have passed since we moved here, our trips to the beach for a walk with Murphy have been fewer and fewer. Murphy and I walk the Prom almost every day but rarely go down on the sand.
There were few people on the beach. The tide was almost all the way in so we walked on soft sand. Five years ago we would say “Beach” to Murphy and he would eagerly run to the door, wait impatiently for his leash, and charge out the door as soon as it was open. When we got down on the sands, we would throw the ball for him to retrieve and he would charge off and bring it back most of the time. Sometimes he would keep the ball in his mouth, content to walk holding it. Digging holes in the sand, rolling in stinky, dead sea creatures, and marking sand castles in his own particular way kept him busy. Sometimes he would find something he wanted to keep, usually a stick that he would dance around with because he had a stick and we didn’t. One time he found a Nerf rocket that came home and another time a Nerf football that he still carries around in his mouth. He would greet other dogs if we let him, particularly liking puppies that liked to play doggie tag.
But this Sunday was different. Murphy retrieved the ball once and that was enough. Tom threw the ball again and had to retrieve it himself. Murphy dug one hole and marked one lonely sand castle. He found a stick but it was too big for him to carry very far. So he walked with Tom and I as we made our way from the south end of the beach to the turnaround. It felt good to walk in the sand and listen to the ocean. We talked about how quickly the summer had passed. We talked about Murphy showing his age. He still is in great shape and gets around easily but doesn’t have the desire to chase a ball anymore. The ocean is timeless. As long as we can, the three of us will continue to walk the beach remembering to do it more frequently, with or without a ball.