It had been such a tranquil day. On account of the slightly cooler weather, and the slightly stronger breeze, we had taken the car to a spot we had seen on a previous outing. It was a small beach just next to the small harbour, and protected from the winds by man-made walls that were high enough to block the wind.
The ocean was calm, shallow and cool. The water had strata of blue and green and was so clear we could see baby whiting swimming all the way to shore. We traipsed down with towels, boogie board, esky and toys and spent a relaxing three hours there. I paddled about in the shallows, gently undulating my leg to try and get the muscles moving. The boogie board we had bought for Lucy, which she had flatly rejected, was great for me as I floated around trying to limit my movements but get the knee working. Lucy may not have been keen to be the next YouTube sensation, but it was helping my rehabilitation.
The sun was shining, my husband walked up along the shallow area of the wall to where he could watch all manner of marine life go about its business and Lucy swam out to where he was, quickly working out how she could climb onto a rock for a rest. I balanced Archie on the board and floated him softly out there, with my arm over him and around the other side of the board to steady it. He didn’t love it, but he stayed put, and allowed himself to be glided towards the action.
We left relaxed, had light lunch at the jetty further down the shore and headed for home.
It was the rinsing that started it. Beach means sand and salt water and that means a lot of rinsing when you get home: the dogs, their leads, their bandanas which we had wet and tied around their neck to keep them cool, the dogs themselves. Lucy normally dries quickly but Archie is like a giant sponge and holds onto water like he holds onto sand.
Fortunately the cottage we have rented had a garden and a hose, and it was giving my husband access to both that was the mistake. As I busied myself moving in and out of the cottage, bringing stuff out and rinsing it off in a bowl of water, he seized control of the hose. First he limited himself to stuff that needed rinsing off, but soon grew bored of this and turned the hose on me. I tried uselessly to get away but caught the full brunt, which left me drenched. Archie, sensing conflict and always keen to get in on a fight started barking.
‘Haha!’ My husband cried, pleased with his work as I stood dripping in the garden, ‘You want a piece of this, do you?’ He turned the hose on Archie.
There is a way to rinse a dog, which will result in the dog not getting over-excited, just less salty and sandy. This was not the way. As he had been targeted from some distance, Archie’s fur remained full of sand and salt but soaked up every last drop of water that was directed at him.
What was a dog to do? Archie knew. Barking furiously he headed for the one place he knew he could get dry. The place we had rented and I had worked hard to keep nice and clean during our stay. I could only watch as Archie rotated through 180 degrees and headed for the door to the cottage.
‘Nooooooooooo!’ I cried, ‘Not the house, Archie.’ But Archie was wet and all that stood between him and a palace of opportunities to dry himself was a door – a door I had left open while bringing stuff in and out. He bolted at full speed and leapt over the threshold with Lucy, also wet, now in hot pursuit.
I limped towards the house, calling him back out – only to witness him appear springing briefly out of the door before swinging wildly around and going back in.
‘Oh Christ,’ I said to my husband, ‘He is doing circuits.’
And indeed he was, for there is nothing a soaking wet dog likes to do more than maximize his impact in a previously clean environment by running around in giant laps to ensure he covers the whole floor.
I got to the living room. Water was everywhere. It looked like an ice rink had melted.
‘Archie – WHERE ARE YOU?’ I screamed.
He appeared at speed from the bedroom, with Lucy behind him. Stopped briefly in front of me, he shook his sodden coat violently, spraying water liberally over TVs, iPads and other electronic goods, then dashed though my legs towards the door again.
‘The swine, ‘ I called out to my husband, ‘He nutmegged me.’
But Archie’s work was not yet done. Racing back in from the garden, where he had apparently evaded my husband again, he spotted his final target: The couch.
The couch was a modular one in a stylish micro-suede fabric. It described a neat right angle in one corner of the small living room. Upon arriving, I had covered the couch in throws I had brought from home, to prevent Lucy covering it in white fur.
‘No, Archie!’ I commanded, but it was too late, his tiny mind was made up. Even as the words hung in a speech balloon deflating at my lips, Archie leapt about three feet from the flood on the floor and landed successfully on the couch. He was travelling at such speed by now that he did not stop, but ran along the length of the back of the couch, at ninety degrees to the seating, like a sodden hairy biker in a soft furnishings cage of death. Lucy was right behind him and together they pulled down my carefully draped couch protectors and rolled about in glee.
Yeah, like I said, just a quiet day at the beach.