Born in Brooklyn and raised in Manhattan, my dog Dylan is your typical New Yorker. He finds it weird when strangers acknowledge him. Smiles and casual conversation aren’t his strengths. He’s a gloriously cute brown and white Shih Tzu, but the cute factor kind of ends there.
A few years ago, as I prepared myself for the big move back to my hometown of Pensacola, I sent Dylan ahead to Florida to get acclimated to his new environment. If Dylan could tell you his side of the story, he’d say that I abandoned him to my parents’ home after a particularly hard flight to Florida for Christmas vacation. Considering that he did chew through his bag and repeatedly bite my leg during the flight, despite the tranquilizer, I might not disagree with him.
After being apart for almost a year, it was surprising to me to see how close he’d gotten to my father. When I finally arrived in Pensacola, Dylan and my dad had become best friends. Quite literally, if you saw my dad, you’d find Dylan tagging along right at his feet. A little jealous of their tight relationship, I definitely looked for any opportunity to bond with my once little buddy Dylan. When I moved to East Hill, the dog lovers at City Grocery told me about the Bayview Dog Beach. Here was my chance. I’d take Dylan on the weekends, and we’d bond again while playing together at the beach! Dylan had other ideas.
As soon as we arrived, I could feel Dylan’s excitement as he pulled on his leash with weighted anticipation. As I suspected, there were plenty of dogs already there. We entered the gate and I surveyed the scene. Bayview Park has several great attractions, such as beautiful tennis courts, a boat launch and picnic areas. Perhaps most exciting, it’s the home of the only dog beach in Pensacola. The dog beach area is enclosed by a well-maintained fence and the water is netted. The beach has a few elevated dog wash areas complete with flexible sprayers so you can wash your dog after he’s played in the water. My old New York friends would be so envious of such a well-maintained dog beach. The Pensacola Dog Owners Association has really provided something great for our community. As I took in the sights, I noticed the tug on the end of the leash had stopped. I looked down and Dylan was cowering behind me trembling with fear. It was only then that I had realized that not only is Dylan sort of a loner, he’s never really been around other dogs. Here I am, throwing him to the wolves–literally. Sometimes in life, you have to just jump into the deep end, so I took off his leash and waited. Dylan didn’t move. He waited there for quite some time, then glanced up at me and made a break for the gate. He wanted out, and he wanted out now. I chased him down and found a bench. We sat there in silence and watched all the other dogs play and frolic in the sand. Unlike my dog, I’m not as shy. I met plenty of other dog owners and had a great time playing with their dogs while Dylan watched me pensively from his safe park bench. I even met a cutie, although I only know her by her dog’s name. So, if you’re reading this, mommy to Dora, you were the best thing about dog beach.
I finally took Dylan for a swim, but each time had to stop him before he made a break for the gate. As I gave Dylan a bath at the end of the day, I thought to myself, “I need a cooler dog.” Then, Dora’s mom came over, scratched Dylan on the head and said, “What a cute dog.” I think I’ll wait on searching for a new one.
About “The Local”: Ed is a local bar owner, local bar patron and former music industry executive. With a deep love for his hometown Pensacola, yet a small pull for his other great love, New York City, Ed shares a unique perspective about Pensacola – The city that brought him back home. Dylan is your typical former Brooklynite. Although he misses punch ball and an occasional knish, he’s loving his life as a Florida Shih-Tzu. He still finds it weird that everyone smiles at him in Florida. “Go find another dog to pet, forget about it.”
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