Maryland is the first of 12 states to designate an official state dog. The Chesapeake Bay Retriever, (named after the famous bay region of the breed’s origin), receives this honor in 1964. It’s also the mascot of the University of Maryland.
Chesapeake Bay retrievers trace their history to two Newfoundland dogs rescued in 1807 from a shipwreck in Maryland (a red male named “Sailor” and a black female named “Canton”). Also called “Chessies,” Chesapeake Bay retrievers are willing to work under adverse weather and water conditions, even breaking ice during the course of strenuous multiple retrieves.
Now, I don’t have a Chesapeake Bay Retriever but I do have a retriever who’d love the Chesapeake Bay.
“The dog lives for the day, the hour, even the moment.” Robert Falcon Scott
When I began this adventure I can’t say I gave taking my dog a lot of thought. Having him with me was never in question. What I didn’t anticipate is the deeper bond that would form between us.
Life is a 400 sq ft RV becomes an unorchestrated ballet, we know each others’ every move. I go to the couch, he goes to bed, I go to bed he moves to couch. I go to the bathroom he lays on the rug at my feet.
He wakes me up within minutes of the same time every morning, he knows when I prepare the coffee he gets the couch. After I finish my second cup, he brings me my shoes ready to go take on the day.
I look at the little fellow and wonder what I would do without him, it’s not something I like to think about. I sometimes feel like a bad daddy for taking his unconditional love for granted. Not today, for today, is going to be Murphy day.
Finally, there is a break in the rain and Murphy is about as stir crazy as I. It is heartwarming to see how dog-friendly the Annapolis area is. Most stores have water bowls out front some even offer treats and we have several off-leash beaches to chose from. We head across the bay to Matapeake Park.
“Everybody should have a shelter dog. It’s good for the soul.” Paul Shaffer
This is perfect as I’ve been wanting to cross the Bay Bridge anyway. Though there is no rain, the lingering moisture in the air creates a pea soup over the bay. I can hardly even see the bridges spires through the clouds.
In the distance, I hear a bell clank and the low bellowing of a foghorn or maybe a ship’s horn. I keep looking for something to break through the fog but nothing ever does. The small beach is maybe 100 yards long and littered a bit with driftwood, chew toys to Murphy. Murphy is ecstatic to romp, play, and explore along the beach.
A parks and recreation staff member stops by and relieves me from the ball throwing. We engage in conversation and I ask if there are any dog-friendly restaurants nearby. He says most all of them are and adds I should try Red Eye’s Dock Bar.
“I think we are drawn to dogs because they are the uninhibited creatures we might be if we weren’t certain we knew better.” George Bird Evans
I am a bit apprehensive strolling in a restaurant with a dog but those apprehensions are soon allayed when I see the Fido section on the menu. Choices include grilled chicken, hamburger, and bacon and eggs.
I order the medium-well burger for Murph. Not only was he served on the same type dishware as I, the server actually cuts his burger up for him. This could be a dangerous introduction to the high life.
After lunch, the midday sun is finally beginning to burn off the morning fog. We return to the beach to work off our indulgent lunch. He doesn’t miss a beat, true to his retriever lineage he returns the tennis ball or stick for as long as I’ll throw it.
My little guy has a gusto for life, he plays hard. I marvel at his enthusiasm for darting through fields, chasing a squirrel or crashing into waves with no abandon
My heart melts when I notice him staring at me in adoration. I wonder what he’s thinking as he follows me from room to room. I tear up watching him run in his sleep as I imagine he relives his day in dreams. He is certainly my best friend, I can only hope I’m his.
“The great pleasure of a dog is that you may make a fool of yourself with him and not only will he not scold you, but he will make a fool of himself too.” Samuel Butler