The Lesson Of The Beach Ball

This is Deputy Digby Pancake.  After this week, you learn that you never have life all figured out.  Life has a way of throwing curve balls.  But in our case this week, it threw us a beach ball.


Walking on the beach at night has been one of our favorite things to do here in this Florida place.  It is a time of day where we can talk to each other, think about life and listen to the waves.  It is also a time of day where Sheriff Brickle can throw tantrums on the beach because he doesn’t want to leave, I can look for dead fish to roll on, and Girl Person can look for shark teeth…which by the way…she has not found.  Perhaps it is because we don’t let her stay still for too long.


We have our usual routine.  Walk a mile to the beach, jump in the water if Brickle decides he doesn’t care about his hair that day, and then we sit and ponder life and how we got here.  Actually, I just try to get a back rub and eat refreshments.  But last night, as we were walking, we saw it.  A beach ball.  It was like magic…just sitting there, waiting for us to find it.

As Girl Person picked it up so that it didn’t get washed into the ocean, she noticed that this was no ordinary beach ball.  This beach ball. Well.  It was asking us questions.  A lot.  Of questions.


Now, I have never had a beach ball ask me anything directly.  But this beach ball didn’t have just one question.  It had many.  This ball was on fire.

I don’t have a lot of answers in life.  In fact, it doesn’t bother me that I don’t, because no one seems to have answers. Even if they think that they do, the answers can change tomorrow. But the questions on this beach ball made us stop.  Because these were important questions.


These questions were worth thinking about, if only a day.  And we hope that you will play along too.


The first question was “where do you come from?”.  I come from a pancake belly, I assume.  But secondly, I came from the galaxy of pancakes.  Thirdly, I suppose, Fernandina Beach, Florida Animal Shelter.  Last, I come from the Big Blue Treat Wagon RV and have made quite a few stops in between.  Sheriff Brickle says that he came from obviously two handsome parents, a world that allows his handsome to grow daily, and from the Dothan Humane Society in Alabama. Then, with a lot of trips in between, the Big Blue Treat Wagon RV.  Girl Person says that this question is one that a lot of people like to answer.  She says it is fun to talk about where we came from.  But it’s more important to know where we are going.


The second question was “Whats your favorite activity?”.  Seriously.  Who wrote these questions? The answer is always pancakes, dinner and eggies, hiking in the woods, naps and repeat.  Sheriff Brickle’s favorite activity? I don’t even need to tell you what he said, but I will.  Looking at himself in the mirror.  Obviously. He watched himself answer that question in the mirror.


“What time do you wake up?”.  Uh, whenever I want to.  And what time of day when I am asleep is this question referring to? The morning, the nap after breakfast, the nap after lunch, the nap after dinner or the nap before each nap?  Sheriff Brickle always sleeps with one eye open.  So his answer is never.  Because he never is asleep.


Now, the third question, “how do you spend your free time” was to me, the most important one of all.  You see, I believe that all of our time should be free time.  No matter what we are doing during the day, we chose to do that. Our free time of doing what makes us happy should be far greater than time that does not.

It may have seemed silly to some, us sitting on the beach with a ball that had questions and answering them.  But what is sillier?  Not ever thinking about the simple things in life?  We may never know who wrote these questions, but we have to thank them.  Because, if for but a moment, even Girl Person remembered who she was and what she liked before all of the responsibilities and trials of life.  Life is hard, but it is only because people make it so.  Underneath whatever uniform you have on today, you have a favorite food, a favorite activity, and you came from somewhere.  The lesson of the beach ball is to always keep asking yourself questions so that you remember who you are.  Because who you are is something magical.  Like the beach ball.

-Deputy Digby Pancake

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Loving Dogs Does Not Give Us An Excuse To Be Rude To Kids

I had a moment this week.  There we were, walking on a trail that we have walked down many times.  I know what time of the day to go to avoid the crowds…actually…the kids.


I have senior dogs who are a little slower, a little more cautious.  And in fact, I may be getting a little slower, and a lot more cautious about who approaches my boys.  Yes, my boys.  I call my dogs my boys.  Because.  They. Are. My. Boys.


As we were on the boardwalk, a mom with a baby was walking in the opposite direction.  On a boardwalk, there is no way to get off of it like a trail.  And Digby is afraid of boardwalks a bit and hugs the side.  So yeah.  I was trapped.  I knew my dogs and that they would simply rush past them, but I wanted the mom to have some space.  As I held their harnesses so that she could go by, she simply stopped and said, “are your dogs aggressive?”  And yes, it hurt.  It hurt very much.  I knew she had every right to ask me that with a baby.  But I also took offense to the tone and the fact that my dogs may have looked aggressive to her.  And I thought to myself.  Ugh.  Kids.  Why were they here?  Didn’t they know this was our trail this time of night?  Yeah.  I thought that.


Having traveled literally across the United States five times now, I understand that some people don’t like dogs, or that maybe they are afraid of dogs from a past experience.  And I respect that. I don’t like it.  But I respect it.


I also respect the other side, that there are those who may love dogs but not love kids…so much.  We all have a right to fulfillment, whether that be of parenting dogs or children.  However, that right does not give us an excuse to be rude to each other.  Yet, that is what I see happening.  And I have to wonder, when did this new way of treating others become acceptable?  When did a true division start between those with dogs and those with kids and disrespecting each other?

I have to think that perhaps each side believes that how they are choosing to fulfill themselves is not respected, or that it is devalued.  And when we think that others look down on us, we get a bit defensive.  I have.  Just like on that boardwalk.


I have heard it all.  “You aren’t a real parent.”  “Dog parents aren’t parents”.  “People that call themselves pet parents are mentally unstable”.  Yep.  I have also heard the other side.  “Kids are useless.”  “Kids take all of your money and leave you when they are older.”  And I am sure that you have heard similar sentiments. Maybe you have even said them.  I know I have thought of some myself.  Shocker.

But this week, as I got off of that boardwalk, I decided to truly look at myself a little more.  Why was I so irritated at kids lately?  Was it that little boy that decided to purposefully ride his bike into our path?  Was it the little girl that threw a stick at us from a bridge when we walked under it?  Or maybe it was that toddler that ran screaming at us under our picnic table.  Yes, yes.  That was really irritating.  But what did the other side look like?


Were the parents of those kids irritated with us because they wanted their kids to have those same trails to themselves too?  Were they irritated that dogs were sitting by where their kids were eating?  What were they thinking?  Was I being disrespected or disrespectful?  What was I so mad about?  Did loving dogs give me an excuse to be rude to kids?  The looks I was giving them were pretty rude.


And I thought a little more.  At one time in my life, I wanted kids.  I thought that I would have a big family.  My life took other turns.  Was I maybe a little jealous?  Was I putting myself down for things that did not come to be?  I was happy with my life and happier with my boys.  But  I felt a little devalued.  Yes.  I admit it.  And my anger and hurt were apparent.  Maybe not to anyone else, but I know my dogs felt it every time I pulled on their leash a little harder when kids walked by.


And then. Came. Jonah.  As we were walking along back to our car, hot and tired and a little mentally exhausted on my part, a kind boy came up to us.  With a gentle nature and an appreciation for dogs, his mom told us proudly how he fostered dogs and wanted his picture with Brickle and Digby.  And I have to say…I had a few tears. How was it at this moment we would meet Jonah?


Not only was Jonah kind, but his mom was too.  We showed mutual respect and admiration for each other, and in that five minutes, Jonah and his mom proved it.  We have to be…we must be…kind!  Kind to each other, respect others and in turn we will get that back.


Life is hard for everyone, whether you have kids or dogs.  We all rush around, trying to protect our own families that we love.  We all seem to be a little grouchy and not even have the time to be kind.  Actually, being rude seems to come easier, doesn’t it?  And this is not good for us, our dogs, or kids.  We have no right to judge others for how they love.  We have no right to judge others for who makes up their family.  For me, when I see people who love kids and dogs…well…I applaud you too!  Your love knows no bounds.


But we can’t expect others to be kind until we ourselves are kind.  Will some days it be super hard?  You know it.  But we have to just let it go!

The next time you find an excuse to get irritated with a parent who is not the same kind of parent that you are…think of Jonah.  Think of Brickle and Digby.  And realize that they have no problems with each other.  It’s us.

-Rachael Johnson, Owner and Girl Person of 2 Traveling Dogs

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