The Old Yankee Bitch

“On Monday I found my husband dead on the couch.”

We take our dogs Caddy– a wild at heart Australian Cattle Dog/Beagle (you see the Beagle in her ears and howl), and Dylan– the sweetest Toy Poodle who tells everyone he loves them with his tongue– to the empty beach of Hampton, New Hampshire.

It is low tide, so the gulls are having a grand ol’ time gulping washed up crabs and clams. The boulders are exposed. Only the ones who live nearby and who have companion dogs are out right now. The rest– the wannabes— wait in the shadows for summer.

The Old Yankee Bitch– we never asked for her name and she didn’t ask for ours (we only know each other’s dogs’ names, naturally )– stands waiting in her marshmallow jacket on the other side of the mini jetty. We make eye contact at precisely the moment Caddy squats and shits. Good thing I brought a bag, otherwise she’d scold me for leaving the shit, even if I buried the shit under the sand. People here leave their used needles in the sand for all of us plebes to step on, so what the hell?

The fox-like Delilah, a Sheltie, of course is at her side. As I walk up the cement stairs to throw the bag-o-shit away, I look around and Delilah is waiting at the base of the stairs. How did she get there so quickly?

“Hello Delilah! I’ve missed you so.”

Caddy is delighted, and needless to say, so is Dylan (Delou aka Bob Dylan).

I unhook the leashes from their collars. Off the three best of friends run; tails up, tongues out. We run after the three, who outrun us, looking behind to make sure us slow ones are keeping up.

We say our customary hellos to The Old Yankee Bitch. We cheer on the dogs– they are the most important phenomenon, after all– another dog outside our knowledge joining the pack, a senior black lab.

Caddy herds him like her blood tells her too. The man leaves with his black lab.

Dylan chases a jogger who is on the other side of the wall, and we’re fearful for a moment that he’ll soon blend in to the dirty snow. Perhaps the jogger would want to take him. I run and call him like a crazed mother. He races back to us.

Time to go home.

As we walk, The Yankee Old Bitch calls Delilah a bitch. Her term of endearment, but she’s really pissed that she can’t fully trust Delilah to do the right thing and not run off. Then she looks at us as we convey our adieus.

She says in the same tone and nonchalance as calling Delilah a bitch, “I found my husband dead on the couch. Delilah barked and whined for him. Anyway, have a good day and we’ll see you tomorrow.”