A day at the dog beach
Updated: August 6, 2012 6:09AM
For those of you who don’t know Gretta, Gretta is my family’s 1-year-old German Shepherd/Golden Retriever mix. But chances are, if you live in Hinsdale, you have either been jumped on by her or barked at by her.
Gretta spends her days running laps from one end of our fence to the other, barking at any human, dog, cat, squirrel, rabbit, or imaginary creature that walks passed. She takes her guard dog role a bit too seriously, yet she would roll over on her back for a belly rub if anyone dangerous were to actually ever cross her path.
People wonder why my family is so smitten with the same dog that has confused our beds with bone burial grounds, who has claimed our expensive living room chair as her throne, and who refuses to come inside at night without being lured in by corned beef (note: salami used to do the trick, but she has become too high maintenance, we fear the day she moves on to filet mignon). Well to those confused people: we are confused too.
As destructive and obnoxious at Gretta may be, she definitely has a fan club. A dozen times throughout the day, my family will look out or window and see families stopped at the fence petting Gretta, who’s head is about a thousandth of an inch from being permanently stuck through the fence.
Last week I read an article about dog beaches. I started to wonder if Gretta would like going to a dog beach. She loves other dogs, but she also acts like the wicked witch of the west when even the faintest rain drop strikes her luscious golden locks. I figured going in the water was out of the question.
When I told my mom my idea about bringing Gretta into Chicago for the day, her eyes widened in fear, and after a little bit of convincing she agreed to accompany me on my audacious adventure.
I did some research and decided on Montrose dog beach. I had to bring Gretta’s medical record to the Village Vet practice in Western Springs to purchase a $5 permit and dog tag that allowed Gretta access on the dog beach. After this quick and easy process, we were ready to go.
On Saturday morning, my mother, my sister Grace, the mutt, and myself climbed into the car and drove to the beach. Gretta stuck her head out the window the whole way, but we made sure not to roll her window all the way down, she has a history of jumping out when she sees squirrels.
Upon arrival to the beach, Gretta’s nostrils flared out and she started drooling over the smells of hot dogs on the grill. She already liked it there and so did I. We had to walk from the main beach to the fenced off dog beach. Both me and Gretta’s jaws dropped as we approached the dog beach. Dozens and dozens of dogs, we had died and gone to heaven.
I took a deep breath and unclicked her leash. She was off, leaving a cloud of sand behind her. My family watched her sprint around the beach, greeting dog after dog, jumping around like her tail was on fire. She saw a golden retriever headed for the water and chased after her.
“She thinks it’s her mom,” exclaimed my 10-year-old sister, Grace.
“No way she is going to go in the water,” said my mom.
The golden retriever ran in the water, and Gretta followed after her not quite realizing what she was getting herself into. Gretta hit the water, and tried to stop herself. She lifted her wet front paws and looked up at us stunned. She looked back at the golden retriever who was all the way in the water, and back at us. She ran further into the water and swam around like a dog. We were shocked.
Gretta played for a couple hours, running after dogs, jumping over people who were lying out, and plucked a hot dog or four off a grill. Next on the agenda was Bistronomic, a restaurant that supposedly had a dog menu and a people menu.
My assumption was that Gretta would plop down on the ground next to us and sleep at lunch, and that was definitely just an assumption. Gretta begged everyone for a taste of his or her food. My fault for taking her to a restaurant that served bacon. We asked for a dog menu and our waiter looked puzzled. Apparently, a dog menu was a strange rumor. When the waiter brought us our food, Gretta put her front legs up at the table and pretended to be a person. After our embarrassment subsided, we fed Gretta scrambled eggs under the table.
At the end of lunch a very disillusioned hostess complimented Gretta on how well behaved she was. Even Gretta laughed at that funny joke.
As we got on the expressway to go home, my mom turned to the back seat and looked at Gretta.
“Take a nice long look Grett, because this may be the last time you go downtown,” she said.
Bridget Murray is a summer intern with The Doings