We took our first beach walk this morning. For a big girl who barely walks any distance, it was a hard, heavy breathing effort across the soft sand to the beach. But I took my time, pausing to toss the Frisbee far enough so that Laddy could retrieve it without jumping for it.
After several rounds of play, I had a moment of being ready to turn around, but I reminded myself that I had all the time in the world and I could stop and rest as often as I needed to. I leashed Laddy and we continued the strenuous trek to the water.
We stopped several times, to notice where we had entered the beach, to read the signs that cordoned off the dunes for the nesting snowy plovers, to pep talk my exploding calves that I could, indeed make it to the water.
The sand at the water line was hard-packed and so easy to walk on, even with the clumps of sand that had gotten into my mesh water shoes and filled the area around my toes. The tide was going out and dozens of shorebirds were beaking into the exposed sand.
We walked to the south, toward Morro Rock. Laddy led the way, carrying his hot pink Frisbee between his teeth. He noticed a young dog on a leash splashing in the water but he didn’t pull me or even seem very interested. A woman picking shells commented how happy Laddy looked and I said, “We both are.”
The top of Morro Rock was hidden by the morning fog and only a few people were beach walking. A pair of runners glided by us with a silent nod. An older couple wearing jackets and scarves stood close together, looking out at the water. A ladies walking group, carrying water bottles and trail mix, passed us going in the opposite direction.
The beach was dotted with rocks and shells and bits of crab legs. Laddy stopped to sniff and then pee on a clump of seaweed and the sand flies buzzed at the disturbance. A man in chest-high waders cast his fishing pole into the surf.
We walked almost as far as the Rock, now fully exposed against the soft blue of the sky. Surfers black-dotted the rising waves and several families with small children and unleashed dogs were playing on the beach. I wanted to avoid the interaction so we turned around.
For a brief moment I chastised myself for not walking all the way to the Rock, but quickly let it go, accepting how far we did walk as a great accomplishment for our first beach walk.
I watched Laddy leave his paw prints in the firm sand and noticed how his back right leg barely makes a mark. Although he doesn’t limp or favor his leg, he has an issue with his ACL and he doesn’t have the stability for quick stops or the confidence to jump up the RV steps.
So, even though I’m out of shape and in no hurry to walk a hundred miles, part of the restraint is also to make sure he doesn’t overdo it.
The walk back over the soft sand seemed even more strenuous than before. Laddy pulled me forward but I still had to stop several times to rest and catch my breath. The breeze was gone but my skin was cool, my lungs clear.
At the end of the trail I sat on a log that serves as a parking barrier and I gave myself permission to sit as long as I needed to, until my breathing was regular again. Laddy laid down in the sand and was happy to wait.
So we will walk a little more each day, several times a day, each step getting easier and stronger for both of us.