Saturday, May 16, 2009

First Dip

I love telling the story about the first time Stella went swimming.

She was about three-and-a-half months old when we went to South Carolina. After a visit with our good friends Roger and Mamie, we went on to Folly Beach for a day and I don't think Stella had ever seen a beach or an ocean so I was pretty excited about the whole thing. I parked the car and as we came out onto the beach, a look came over Stella's face like I hadn't seen before or since (except maybe at the dog park). It was like we'd landed at Disney World and for the next three hours we could be seen digging up seaweed, chasing feathers, biting the foamy surf and generally mixing it up with whatever lay in our path. The only thing she didn't try was heading straight into the water. Not wanting it to be a scary experience I didn't encourage it either. She was happy enough splashing through the shallow puddles and attacking those air bubbles that rise from the wet sand.

We met dogs and people and seagulls galore. We had lunch at a restaurant with outdoor seating where Stella appointed herself the hostess and I thought I would never get the chance to eat for talking to people about how adorable she was. It was a gorgeous day.

When we made it back to the beach the tide had gone out leaving pools of standing water, a few of them so big that we had to wade through them to make our way back the mile or so, to where I'd parked the car. That's when it happened. We were wading in a pool of ocean water that dropped off rather precipitously (nearly dunking the camera bag). The water rose to my waist and suddenly Stella was forced to dog-paddle. I'll never forget the look she gave me then. Her brown eyes, filled with disbelief, were so big that when she turned to look at me for comfort, it was all I could do not to burst out laughing.

"Stella honey, are you swimming?"

About the time I said it, her feet found the sandy bottom again and she came up out of the water like a rocket. Both of us were completely covered with sand and water by that time and I had to sit down, I was laughing so hard.

In the parking lot, I chained Stella to a telephone pole and dried us both off with a towel. There was a guy there getting ready to leave on a beautiful old (Panhead) Harley. To be polite, he backed it out of its spot and warned me that it might scare the dog. I thanked him and told him that I didn't think it would. He was totally amused by my optimism and I added that she had lived the last three months on a carnival midway and I didn't think straight pipes on a Harley could compete with that. He laughed then and kick-started the bike while Stella stood there, wagging that tail of hers, and never missed a beat.

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