33 – I wasn’t walking alone so I’m not sure where the melancholy came from but it swept over me like a wave, right as we were cresting the hill. I kept thinking about Zeke, the Springer puppy I lost, the day he learned to swim.

We were walking on the beach, Lambert’s Cove, heading towards the stream that cuts the beach in two. Zeke wasn’t on a lead. He was just prancing along unusually confident for a young puppy I remember thinking. He looked back at us a few times to be sure we were there. That dog was so handsome, black and white; curly haired with very long ears and thick white feathers on the backs of his legs.

I was concerned when we got to the stream. It had a swift current and was sort of deep in the middle. I didn’t know what Zeke would do, so we followed him into the saltwater as he marched straight ahead. I thought about picking him up but somehow knew I had to let him try this.

The water got deeper and still he walked across until it reached his neck and every part of him was under except his head. That was when it happened. He looked down at his right front paw as it rose off the sandy bottom, looked to the left, back to the right and then he was paddling, and finally, just like that, that little guy was swimming.

We clapped, patted him on the head when he got onto the other side of the stream and shook off on the sand. It had to do with feeling safe, I remember thinking, feeling secure enough to keep going forward and not flinching when it got scary.

Standing at the top of the hill, turning to head home, I thought about all I learned from my dogs. I just had to pay attention. “Right Leo?” I said, petting him. “Right?”