Dog Days of Summer

Vacationing with a pair of pooches means responsibility instead of relaxation

I need a vacation from my vacation.

I am sitting in the Cape May free public library, it being one of only two wi-fi locations that I know of in this quaint town. (The other, an internet café, charges by the hour, and I’m too anxious to write when the meter’s running.)

Needless to say, I had no idea that today was the meeting of the kids’ Summer Reading Club. About 10 feet away, dozens of noisy rug rats are fidgeting on the floor as a high-decibel magician performs tricks, his comedic patter guaranteed to be understood only by their parents.

“What does it mean when the traffic light is yellow? It means you should speed up because it’s about to turn red. Hey, this is New Jersey. Just kidding.”

“You tappen zee table? You Tappen Zee Bridge?”

Let me be clear. I adore children. I have one of my own, in fact. But trying to concentrate amidst this din of controlled chaos makes me nostalgic for my college library, where everybody was either sleeping, studying or stoned. It was so quiet, you could hear a doobie drop.

Now the kids are repeating the magician’s mantra: “I promise to clean my room, listen to my parents, and stop picking my nose.”

I know what you’re thinking. ‘Why doesn’t she come back later, when there’s less tumult?’ Because the library will close soon, that’s why, and I’ve two dogs at home, itching to hit the water.

Which brings me to the larger reason I need a vacation from my vacation. I’m here solo this week, which means full-time dog duty.

Joey, our Zen-like English sheepdog, loves to chase waves even more than she likes to roll in deer shit, and that’s saying something. Rudy, our borderline-psychotic West Highland terrier, prefers to bark wildly at any creature in his field of vision. Together, they are the Mutt and Jeff of dogdom. Joey weighs 93 pounds and turned 10 on Sunday. (She got an extra dog biscuit.) Rudy, a mighty 15 pounds of unalterable will, is eight and a half.

At about 7 a.m., these two start whining at my bedside. Don’t they know I’m on vacation? It’s not food, water or evacuation of fluids they want—it’s the beach. No matter how much I ignore them, the whining only increases. It’s get up or go mad.

Actually, I enjoy taking the pooches—well, Joey, anyway—to the nearby dog beach. But at a reasonable hour, please. The worst part is that there are no trash cans on the beach, which means stowing bags of dog crap in the broiling trunk of the car until we get home. ‘Nuff said.

After the beach, the dogs must be washed, hosed down, watered and fed. Then I collapse for a while. Later in the day, they will start beach-whining again. At this point, a brisk walk around the neighborhood usually does the trick. At least one more walk before bed. Then we start over.

Oops, closing time here. I can’t wait until this vacation ends so I can relax again. Dog days of August, indeed.