A week at the beach, without Gladys

We had taken her on our yearly one-week stay at the beach only twice but already it had become a family tradition. Of an undeterminate age, except old; or breed, other than a street mutt, the ever-chunkier Gladys had learned to jump excitedly on the back seat of the car, do a few tight turns and claim a small space amid the plastic coolers, suitcases, sundry groceries and junk. We are off to the beach!

One the road again. 

Gladys was a perfect traveler. During the first two hours of the then eight-hour trip (now seven thanks to a new road), she’d peer out the car windows as if she were taking in the views or getting ready to offer driving directions. Once we had to stop at a tire shop to get a flat fixed, and she kept an eye on the mechanic as if to be sure all the work was done properly. But after a while she would just curl up and go to sleep except for pit stops for coffee, gas and sanitarios.

Cynics out there would snark that Stew and I were just putting thoughts in her head and that Gladys was just happy to ride in the car to the beach, a hardware store or anywhere. That may have been true the first time, but I’m sure not the second time. By then she knew she was headed to a week in the sand during which she would be the sole attraction.

Dogs remember memorable events, and some are etched in their brains in capital letters, in between exclamation marks. When she was barely a year old, Lucy one of our other dogs, got a stick of butter and devoured the entire thing in about ten seconds. Hmm, good. I’m sure to this day she has a tiny neon sign in her head that urgently flashes ¡MANTEQUILLA! whenever Stew is making toast our using butter in the kitchen.

Likewise, after her first outing Gladys had her own alarm inside her cranium: ¡PLAYA! Upon arrival she darted towards the sand and the shoreline, no directions needed. This ain’t no hardware store!

Our beach of choice is Barra de Potosí, a fishing village with an ever-growing chain of private homes and small hotels about a twenty-minute drive south of Zihuatanejo. The beautiful beach is almost deserted and the few walkers or joggers often have their dogs in tow, deliriously running and sometimes jumping into the ocean. The star of the show during our stay last week was a seventy- or eighty-pound black Labrador-ish named Chapulín (“Grasshopper”) that couldn’t get enough of the sea and kept doing an impression of body surfing.

On our first trip we kept Gladys on a leash, afraid she might get into a fight with other dogs, but we soon realized they were all having too good a time to bother with intra-canine brawls. Besides, Gladys would rather chase crows that from her perspective must have looked like B-52s, or scare one the delicate white herons tiptoeing at the water’s edge. Of course she never caught anything. None of the dogs did. But the running around sure was a blast.

At sunset, when every creature seemed to slow down to a more contemplative pace, Gladys did too. She might exchange a last-minute sniff with a dog passing by but that was it. Finally she would lie down on the sand quietly and look at the dazzling display of a fireball growing ever larger and then plunging below the horizon.

What was she thinking? Who knows. Was she marveling at the beauty before her? Her good fortune that two humans found her in a parking lot after someone had abandoned her? Or that for one week she enjoyed our undivided attention, having her belly rubbed or head scratched endlessly, with no competition from our other four younger and more nimble dogs?

Whatever was in her head I’m glad I took one last photo of her during these late-afternoon reveries. She surely didn’t know, and neither did we, that would be her last trip to the beach and her last photo.

10 thoughts on “A week at the beach, without Gladys

  1. Geez Louise, how sad can that be? Yes, it is beautifully written and Gladys was very very special, but now I'll be sad about Gladys ALL day, and think about her more. I do love Barra de Postosi. Next year for sure.


  2. I still have to meet Barco. I don't think I've seen any pictures of him on your blog. Maybe this summer you can bring him to San Miguel and you can all stay with Barbara, who claims to like dogs. We'll see. Better call her before showing up at her place. lol


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