Sunday, June 21, 2015

Beach Walks With My Dog Tidbit

My dog Tidbit passed away in my arms on June 30th of 2014. This, then, is the telling of my beach walks with my dog to be remembered. She is still with me in spirit, as she shall forever be.

Walking Dog Friendly Beaches On Florida's Forgotten Coast

The coastal region in which I live is considered part of Florida's Forgotten Coast. My dog Tidbit and I spent a good amount of time walking a stretch of Lanark Beach along the Gulf of Mexico, just a few miles east of Carrabelle, in the Florida Panhandle.

My dog Tidbit resting on the Pier overlooking the Gulf of Mexico

Like most of the locals here (I transplanted from another part of the country) I am kind of glad this area has "forgotten" status. For instance: For a little over a year, Tidbit and I walked on the beach nearly every day. We saw only a dozen humans and a couple of dogs on the beach during that time. I brought half of those people to the beach when they visited us from my old home state of Ohio!

It is quiet here, even during tourist season. We have our fair share of vacationers, but thankfully, not like in other parts of the Sunshine State. I lived in South Florida for twenty-some years and can tell you I appreciate the peacefulness of the Panhandle.

The town of Sopchoppy is about fifteen minutes north of where I live. It takes but a minute to fly by the small town on my way to the nearest Walmart store in Crawfordville, about a forty-five minute drive from my home. You can listen to Gary P. Nunn singing “Redneck Riviera,” one of the songs from Tom T. Hall’s album, Songs From Sopchoppy.

These books and the album by Tom T. Hall will tell you all about the history and local interests in my neck of the world.


Dog's First Steps In the Sea

My dog Tidbit was an instant beachcomber! She took her first steps in the sea water of the Gulf of Mexico with tail-wagging glee. Then she ran out of the water to sniff the sand and seaweed, filling her senses with all the new sights and scents within her reach along the coastline.

Ah! I saw amazing adventures in the near future for my dog and me!

My dog Tidbit takes her First Steps in the Sea 

Click pictures for a larger view of Tidbit's first steps on the Florida coast.

Our Pier at Lanark Beach, Florida

We never really knew what our pier view would be when we headed to walk the beach. No matter the season, the weather, or the time of day, the pier against the palette of nature's sky, sand, and water colors was always spectacular.

Every view of the pier that my dog Tidbit led me to is engraved in my memory, along with my thoughts and feelings of the day. Even toward the end of her days here on earth, Tidbit would insist upon walks to the beach. Most often I relented, even though I knew she would need long rests on the pier or in the wet sand during our walks and before returning home.

Together, my dog and I witnessed sunrises and sunsets, rainbows and fog, stormy weathered skies, and cotton candied colors of the heavens. Together, we would sit or stand for hours while gazing upon the beauty before us, forsaking all else and others.

Click images for a larger view. 

Voices of the Old Pier Pilings of the Sea

It was love and respect at first sight for Tidbit and the Old Ones, just as it was for me. Here she rests among them after a long walk on the beach. Tidbit is treated with respect by the Old Ones, as if she were one of the pack.

Yes, to most, these are old pier pilings. Tidbit and I, we know better, as we have heard the voices of these storytellers. They’ve many a story to tell the beachcombers of the sea who are willing to listen to the wisdom of their ages.

My dog Tidbit rests upon the surface of an old pier piling.

As my dog Tidbit rests in the heat of the day in the wet sand with the Old Ones nearby, I finger paint her name on the shore. All the while I listen intently, in hopes of hearing their whispering spirits. I hear only the soothing sound of the sea splashing over my own words. (I guess their chat is private today!)

Tidbit is delighted on those days we walk on the beach during low tide. No matter how tired her old body might be, she has the will to walk as far out as she must to walk among the pier pilings she seldom sees. (I went on ahead, leaving them their space and privacy.)

On a dreary day, shortly before cancer took Tidbit's life away, she insisted upon a walk to the beach. I knew the sea was calling her and she was not to be denied.

I cried as she took her stance among the Old Ones. She looked as if she belonged among them. Oh, how I wished it were not so!

My dog Tidbit says Goodbye to Friends on her last Sunset Beach Walk

I created this picture poem after I had a long chat with the Old Ones about my aging dog Tidbit. I knew that one day in the near future my girl, the canine mate of my soul, would no longer stroll the beach with me in body, but I was assured she shall always be with me in the voices of the sea spirits.

Beat the Heat of Summer Sun at the Beach

It is of utmost importance to me to remind you to keep your dogs cool while walking the beaches, especially in the heat of the day. The hot summer sun in the tropics (anywhere for that matter) can cause heatstroke in dogs.

My dogs and I know how to keep our cool in the dog days of summer!

Kaleidoscope of Color from Sea to Shore

In late Spring (2014) and hurricane season's arrival, also came the storms and ripping tides on the Gulf of Mexico shoreline. Seemed appropriate for my dog and me, as aging Tidbit had seemingly little desire nor energy for the short trek to the beach of late. However, she surprised me one late afternoon with an insistent pull toward the Gulf shore.

Although I generally follow Tidbit’s lead on our walks, I was really worried she wanted to walk the beach but would surely not have the physical strength to do so. Off we went anyway.

She led me straight to a kaleidoscope sky view—a rainbow!

Kaleidoscope Sky in Haiku

The sky was a dappled blue and gray, the wind bellowed coolness to cloud the humidity, and the rainbow appeared to be chasing sea and shore.

Tidbit rested, not heading to the pier as she normally would. She stared at her old stump of a tree friend nearby. About the time I was wondering whether she would visit with her friend, she moved toward it, as if to listen to the voice of the elder one. After a few moments, she turned herself around and headed home.

Again following her lead, I couldn’t help but turn back for another view of the darkening sky and just as I was about to curse it goodbye with a tear in my eye, it began to rain … just enough to drown me in my tears.

You see, I believe the rainbow to be a gift from the gods. Sure, it’s a promissory note of a bridge between earth and heavens, but I also believe it to be a bridge between life and death, and that is why I curse the rainbow’s symbolism of change on this date.

I was not ready for the changes taking place in my and Tidbit’s life, in our time on this earth together. Alas, I had little choice but to embrace the change, as my dog had done.

Tidbit so graciously accepted each day’s gifts! Most importantly, she made sure to share them with me, leading me to her understanding, as slowly but surely as she was able. And I followed her lead.

Ruthi and her Dog Tidbit Gazing at the Sun and the Sea

My dog Tidbit and I lived a good life together, for fourteen years, the last year in Florida, until her passing on June 30th of 2014. I know without a doubt in my mind that she not only prepared me for the next dog in my life but that she led me straight to him.

These days, my dog Valentino and I walk the same stretch of beach as did Tidbit and I. As we follow her footprints we hear her voice amid the spirits of the sea. We shall carry them all with us, through our teardrops and our laughter, wherever we go ... Forevermore.

Disclosure: Ruth Cox is an Associate of Amazon and Zazzle and may earn income based on purchases made through links in this article.

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