Oh yeah, baby I'm a real salt dog

So, we’ve left the land of sunshine and snowbirds and landed ourselves in Alabama, and thanks to a bit of paw-friendly planning we’ve discovered another fabulous beach here on Dauphin Island. We deliberately skirted the popular Gulf Shores area precisely because we wanted a paw-friendly experience, and I have to admit this place delivers. It doesn’t have quite the pristine or remote feel of St. Joseph in FL and the view is spotted with oil-rigs off the coast, but we played for an hour and a half in the sand and surf with pooch this AM and only met 2 people so it goes into the “pretty darn nice” pile for us.

Now, this is the Deep South and it’s bursting with interesting history, but before I run off and talk about it I thought I would share a little story of how our pooch became such a beach-lover. You see, Polly was a very skittish puppy who  approached water with a well-grounded mistrust and considered stick-chasing a fruitless pastime rather beneath her dignity. It took many months of daily visits to the beach in San Diego before she overcame fear to put her paw in the water, and even more months of coaxing and play before she decided retrieving was worth her time. We were already on the road by this time, Polly was over 7 months old and she’d never been for a proper swim.

Afternoon play on the beach at Dauphin Island, AL

The beach in my paws and a stick for play. Life is good!

But….we persisted. Approaching the problem with style Polly decided to have her first swim at stunning Cathedral Rock in Sedona, her first retrieving dips in spectacular Lake Powell and finally did the surf and beach full and dog-happy justice when we reached the Eastern Shores of Hunting Island, SC. From a scared and reserved dry-land pup, after 4,000 miles and many good doses of positive play and training she turned into an unabashedly exuberant water-dog. She now loves her sticks, will happily spend a full hour of retrieving in the surf and considers swims with dad the best of treats. So, the story has turned into one of the salt dog and us, and although it doesn’t quite have the flair of Ernest Hemingway, it’ll be a tale we’ll enjoy for the rest of our lives.

Here’s to playtime in the sand (Click the video link)
Play on the Beach at Daupin Island, AL from Paul Novell on Vimeo.

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9 Responses to Alabama, the Salt Dog and Us

  1. Jim says:

    I really enjoy your blog! Very interesting locations that you have ventured to. I know you look for locations where you can have Polly run untethered. How is she when another dog approaches? We have a very small dog, less than 4 lbs, and are always very wary when any dog approaches, especially when they are off leash.

    • libertatemamo says:

      Hi Jim, Polly is friendly with dogs and very gentle with smaller dogs (she’s been well-trained by our 2 cats), but we always call her back and put her on leash when we see another dog, just in case. Then I’ll ask the other owner if the dogs would like to meet and let them do so on-leash if they OK it. When we have the beach to ourselves (as we seem to do most of the time) we let her run wild and play, but unless it’s a dedicated off-leash dog area I never let Polly approach another dog without permission. Nina

  2. jil mohr says:

    nice blog…great video…we loved dauphin island…did you know it is one of the most wonderful birding places when the songbirds come back from their winter in mexico…it is a awesome sight to see…learned about many birds there…but this was all before katrina and the one after that (which my senior brain is forgetting) so i don’t know what it would be like now….but the area is beautiful nonetheless……

    • libertatemamo says:

      Jil, You’re right! This is a big birding area, and the Bird Sanctuary is right next to the campground. I don’t know much about birds, but it’s definitely a cool place to walk around and experience nature. Nina

  3. Love the video, and that you finally got your dog to love the water. Samantha is still a challenge! She won’t go past her chest – when we were in the 1000 islands NY I even got in the water and all she would do is run out to her chest, bark at me, run back to dad, bark at him…and repeat. :-) There was a beach near Wilmington, NC that we spent some time on and she wasn’t too keen on the waves (she looked like a seagull going back & forth) Anyway – glad to hear that your Polly has embraced the beach – looks like a super happy pup! Looks like what we need to do is more traveling to get Sammie water friendly!

    • libertatemamo says:

      Geekyexplorers…yeah, Polly was “stuck” at the belly-point in water for many months. We got so excited the first time her paws left the ground! It just took alot of play and encouragement. If you’d asked us a year ago if Polly would ever be a water-dog we probably would have said “no way”, but she got there in the end. So, just keep playing w/ Sammie and water…you never know :) Nina

  4. What I tried to say was What fun for a dog and her people!

  5. […] of both Fort Gaines and the bird sanctuary, and has the huge attraction of its own semi-private (fully-paw-friendly!!) beach. The Island itself also offers lots of activities such as fishing, birding, biking and […]

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