A day at the beach (actually, a week!)

Ziva running on the beach

photo credit: Kim Johnston

It’s been quite an eventful few days for Ziva (and for us). We’re spending the week at Oak Island, North Carolina, in a beach house a few hundred yards from the beach. It’s been a wonderful, exhausting week for everyone. My brother and his family, including two large dogs, are about half a mile down the beach from us so we’ve seen them quite a bit. I was initially quite worried that Ziva would be afraid of the waves, but she went into the water with just a little coaxing — not so deep that she can’t keep her feet on the ground, which is okay with me. But she is not afraid of the waves crashing and doesn’t mind getting splashed. Her favorite thing though, seems to be running through the pools of water — and wrestling with her cousin Murphy.  She’s still working on controlling her excitement, but for the most part she is doing much better than I expected.

The week didn’t start out so carefree — with Hurricane Irma demolishing much of the Caribbean while we were making our travel plans, we were preparing ourselves for the possibility of canceling our trip, or at the very least cutting it short. Fortunately for us, the weather missed us for the most part, with just one rainy day so far.  The trip itself took forever.  We both ended up working later on Friday than we had hoped, so didn’t get nearly as much done the night before the trip. That meant a lot of hurrying around on Saturday morning, and despite taking her for a long walk, Ziva started to get worked up about all the activity. Every time I took bags out to the car, she whined and scratched at the door. My brother mentioned they had give one of their dogs benadryl before a trip and it helped knock him out. I used to give our previous dog benadryl for itchy skin and it would make him sleepy too, so I thought it might be a good idea for Ziva and help her stay calm on the 7 hour drive. Wrong! It turns out a small percentage of dogs have the opposite reaction. So instead of lying down and going to sleep, she whined and barked and pawed at the crate. For the entire ride. No that’s not right — there was one long spell of about 70 minutes near the end, when she must have just exhausted herself, because she curled up and slept. But then she popped up again. Ziva is pretty good about letting us know when she has to go out, and she was acting like this throughout the trip. So we kept making stops, where she would indeed pee — but just a little. So I don’t know if the benadryl made her feel like she had to pee? Anyway, she will never, ever have benadryl again, that’s for sure.

Ziva lies sleeping in her crateOnce at the house, she has settled in pretty well. We brought her crate inside, and she sleeps in there at night — by her choice. We have not put her in there or shut the door. Although yesterday, after a morning of romping in the surf with her cousins, we were back at the house for lunch. And I realized Ziva was being very quite — I found her curled up on our bed, where she stayed for the next 2 hours. This has been such a great time for her — she has gotten more exercise this week than ever before with us, anyway. She’s been wearing a harness and we keep her on a 30 foot leash. The beach is not very crowded, so we can usually just let her run on the leash — the water, out of the water, back in again.

It’s been a challenge for us to keep up with our training, but we’ve been trying. We have a nice quiet road behind our house and I try to take Ziva for a walk there every morning, so we can work on our leash work. It’s a challenge because there are so many scents, and people, and sometimes dogs. I’m sure the people who see us think I’m nutty, with my “yield to me, follow me.” But I really do not care. Likewise, when she barks at another dog — because she still often does — I know that she is so much better than she used to be, and I don’t care what you think. But, to be fair, this is a very dog friendly place, and no one seems put off by her sometimes barking. Everyone has their dog on a leash, and while Ziva barks at them they give me a wave, a smile, and a nod.

Ziva and Murphy stand next to each other on the beach

photo credit: Kim Johnston

Generally, I can distract Ziva with the water. If she is barking at a dog up the beach, and call her over to the surf. She runs in, runs to me, then sees the dog again and barks. Repeat.  It’s been great for her to spend time with my brother’s dogs — both get a long great with other dogs, and Murphy at 9 months already 80 pounds. Murphy and Ziva romp and wrestle and play nicely — for the most part. Yesterday after noon, Ziva got so excited, she started in on her old ways of getting too ramped up and playing too aggressively. Play started getting too rough, and my niece and I decided they needed a little apart time. Which they were fine with. They were still near each other by a few feet, but not in wrestling distance.  Ziva even went and found a shady place. So I still have to keep an eye on her adrenaline in a situation like that. She still doesn’t always know how to turn it down when she starts to get too excited. But for the most part, Ziva and Murphy play very nicely together, and that’s been a great experience for her.

I’ll try to post again this week — I really thought I would have more quiet time, but it’s been hard until now  to have more than a few minutes where Ziva is not needing attention. I think she is settling in now, though. This is her first big trip away from home, and its understandable that she would be restless. All the exercise is finally paying off though, and she is able to be in the house and calm. In fact, as I write, she’s in her crate, sleeping away. I’ll have to rouse her to go the beach soon.

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