Tuesday, June 14, 2005

Doggy beach

Most people expect to see this when they go to the beach:

I, on the other hand was forced to see this:

(actually it was worse, there were rusty old boats, and new boats constantly roaring by, and I could even see the highway in my field of view)

It couldn't have been a more glorious day! Sunday I had planned to go fishing with the boys and the girls would lay out on the beach, leaving the boys to fish and talk smack on the jetty at Belmar Beach, NJ. I thought how great would it be to bring Sgt. Pepper along for the ride and to soak up some of his own rays. I did research, I googled Belmar Beach Pet Policy, and found nothing.

So I figured, well if the town's website doesn't mention anything about dogs I thought they must be allowed. Besides people live in Belmar and people probably have dogs there, and people like to walk their dogs on the beach. When we finally got to Belmar, there were signs that said dogs are only allowed in designated areas. And the fishing jetty didn't have any such sign.

At some point Sgt. Pepper was spotted and was asked to be removed. I had just begun fishing. Barely an hour had elapsed since I had tried the new "bunker bait" and tossed a few 50 yard casts.

Alas we were booted from the beach and the fishing peer. Mind you, Sgt. Pepper is a good doggy, he is one of the most tame dogs I know. We were fully prepared with bags for his poop and water for his thirst, we had the leash and everything. He could have in no way caused any more of a mess than some of the fisherman do on a daily basis leaving their squid and clams behind to dry up and desintigrate into slimy masses resembling some yet undiscovered species from the deep.

At most a drop of doggy saliva would get absorbed by the sand. I guess I missed the memo that doggy saliva contains anthrax and as such doggies are a threat to humanity, nature, and of course national security. Mind you, the real injustice is that you have to pay to enter the beach in NJ. Most people think this is insanity. The beach is public land. That means it should be free, with the contention that everyone does their part to keep it clean. Leave no trace and all that.

Luckily, someone told us of a doggy beach in Manasquan which was just a few miles south of Belmar. We went. We realized shortly that we had been relegated to the stretch of sand with the worse view and least relaxation open to the public perhaps in the whole of the Jersey shoreline.

In the first photo above, you can see a thicket to the left of the houses and such. We were in that thicket. The good news was that there were many other dog owners who brought their dogs over there. Sgt. Pepper enjoyed his first time out in the open without a leash to tether him to no more than 30 ft. from me. He ran, played, cajoled with the other dogs. So for him, it was paradise. For me, and my lady, it hardly qualified as to what we had imagined a day at the beach to be. The noise, air, and view were all polluted with sounds, smells, and sights that are precisely what we wish to escape with a trip to the Jersey shore.

So now that I know that there are doggy beaches, does anyone reading this have any suggestions as to any others in NJ that may have better looks, smells, and sounds than the inlet at Manasquan? Please leave comments.

In short, after this and other lessons, I have become hardened to the fact that it is better to assume no dogs allowed. I still have yet to understand why.