Though it was raining this morning when I woke up at just past 7, we never-the-less piled Whiskey into our 1966 Simca 1600 and headed up to Westchester so she could go swimming in the Long Island Sound.
We've been doing this pretty much every weekend morning for about two years. It gives us a chance to get out of the city and gives Whiskey a chance to do what she loves most: swim and retrieve.
I might be the only resident of the Upper East Side who spends $300-$400 a year on dog-training mallards. They're Whiskey's favorite kind of toy--they bring all her hunting instincts to the fore--but regardless of her fondness for they rubberized duck decoys, she still, given half a chance will rip them to shreds.
In order to stay a duck or two ahead of her canines, I order the fowl in sets of three. With shipping, that runs me $77 and three ducks last about ten weeks, about three weeks, six beach sessions a duck.
The rain started coming down hard as we crossed over into the Bronx on the Willis Avenue Bridge and was a veritable downpour by the time we were heading West to East on the Bruckner. But then, as if by Divine signal, the skies cleared as we passed the toll at New Rochelle, and by the time I parked the Simca it was downright sunny.
Whiskey ran right into the sea after her duck, brought it back to me and our game of give and go commenced. More often than not, she would beseech me to mark the location of her duck with a well-aimed toss of a stone, and of course, I obliged. Such tossing and slinging and hurling has been good for my torn rotator. Just a few months after I could barely lift my arm above my shoulder, I am throwing overhead again and with more than a little zip.
I tossed. Whiskey swam. Whiskey returned. I tossed.
After we were on the beach for about an hour, two cops came by on mountain bikes. They waved us over and pointed to the white sign with red type that read "no dogs off leash."
We were about to be-leash Whiskey and call it a morning. Then one of the cops said, "but I don't see anything. So I'll leave it to you." And the other cop said, "I'm on my phone." And they pedaled off.
Despite their grace, the air was let somewhat out of our balloon, and Whiskey was showing signs of tiredness. So after a few dozen more desultory throws, we left the small beach and walked back to our car.
Just as we strapped in and headed for home, the rain, as if on cue, started again, banging loud as a squirrel on a tin roof.
But we made it.