Dog Days of Autumn


Here’s a side of the Jersey Shore lots of people never see. Tourist season is over and the beach here has gone to the dogs.

From May to September, dogs are verboten on the beaches of North Wildwood. (We don’t want them tormenting pastey tourists as the soak up the summer. ) But come October 1, the Dog Days of Autumn begin. The weather is crisp and beautiful, and it’s the perfect time to let the furry ones run free and enjoy the feeling of sand between their webbed toes.

That’s what we had in mind when we coaxed our black doormats (AKA Russel and Wednesday) out of bed, and headed down the street for our first October beach jaunt.

Turns out we were not alone. The dogs “made friends” with several folks, who were lounging in sweatshirts, trying to eek the last few moments of sunbathing out of summer. Most were friendly, although a large family with small children seemed ill at ease as we went ambling by. We did our best to keep our distance…until we met Windstead.

You see, our dogs quickly befriended the visiting Golden Retriever, who sat passively by his owners taking in the ocean view. He was much better behaved than our dogs will ever be, but unfortunately he was very easy to lead astray, and within seconds, the three dogs had staged a revolt.

Before we could call for them, they were circling like vultures, terrorizing the poor family and their children…until Winstead (egged on by his new canine friends, no doubt) came tearing back to his owners with a small teddy bear in his choppers.

The bear’s tiny owner screamed and melted into inconsolable sobs. And while Windstead’s owners brought him under control and retrieved and returned the stuffed animal amid a flurry of harsh words and apologies, we slinked over the dunes and off the beach with our wayward mutts.

It was a little like the scene from the movie, Marley and Me, my son, Emmett said. You know, the one where Marley goes off-leash and poops in the ocean, making outcasts of both him and his owner.

I guess that’s just what you need to expect in October, but I think we’ll wait until the weekend is over and the tourists go home before we attempt another beach day.

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