Beach Dogdom I

As I write this I am listening to the rolling waves of the Pacific Ocean crash onto a rocky beach. Palm leaves are rustling in the Plumeria-scented air and occasionally monkeys swing by high in the thorny trees.

I am in lush and lovely Costa Rica, and while I am thoroughly enjoying the tropical climate, gorgeous flora and fauna, laidback atmosphere, and as much plantains, beans, rice, and guacamole as I can eat (heaven!) – I am still slightly unsettled.

I feel off-kilter and unmoored. Something is missing. I am dog-less.

I travel quite frequently and one would think I’d get used to it, but this always happens; I go away from home, I miss my dogs. My dogs are a huge part of my daily routine when I am at home; we hike every day, and cuddle each evening. I feed them, water them, and tend to their various needs. As part of my regular workday I take several doggy-breaks to clear my head and lower my blood pressure. They make me feel safe, their presence makes me smile. I am their caretaker and they are mine, and when I am away from them it is as though I have left my left arm behind. Being right handed I certainly could get by without it, but it is not natural or as pleasant.

As soon as I arrived in Costa Rica and took my first walk on the beach I sought out and befriended the local dogs to quell my dull ache just a little bit. I just can’t see the point in taking a walk without a canine companion in tow, so I am pleased when the local furry crew accepts me readily and follow me on my daily excursions. I am even more pleased when they allow me to simply sit quietly with them in the sand at sunset. I gaze and the sun and surf as they romp about all around me and the only fee they request for the pleasure of their company is an occasional belly rub or ear scratch. Throwing sticks into the surf for retrieval is considered a bonus and not required. Costa Rican beach dogs are very mellow indeed.

Unlike many of the other exotic locations I have visited over the years these dogs are not feral, not underfed, and not leery of people at all. They live here with their people in this beach community and don’t beg for food or scurry away at the occasional sites and sounds of civilization. They have collars and names, which I mostly don’t know because while these dogs clearly belong to somebody (mainly surfers who’s outlines I can barely make out from shore) their people only surface to play with them for a bit or to call them indoors for the evening. Costa Rican beach dwellers also seem very mellow indeed.

These dogs do not wiggle and wag and run up to greet each passer by on the long stretch of sandy shore, instead they seem rather indifferent to most people. Their approach is dignified and calm, every one of them, yet as time goes by and they get to know me they become more silly and open giving a glimpse into their Central American Dogdom.

They are a diverse bunch and there seems to be a few units or subgroups that live and play together more readily, however none of them fight or defend territory from each other. They appear to live in peace and harmony filling their days with body surfing and back-scratching rolls in the sand. I am having a ball watching them every day and will report back with more (including photos) on their lifestyle and antics over the next few days.

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