40 – Herb and I and the Springer Zeke were walking on the beach, January 2007, an icy, windy afternoon. Herb’s cancer hadn’t yet returned and we were feeling blessed. We knew it would return, but we had this day, this time…. The sun was brilliant, the air salty fresh.
We held hands and walked while Zeke scampered ahead chasing a tennis ball. Herb dropped the towel he was carrying in case Zeke’s feet got too wet. He wouldn’t need it. He was throwing the ball so the dog would stay on the sand. But then wait, Zeke started running ahead and then he turned and ran straight into the sea! Just like that he was swimming hard away from the shore.
We ran to catch up, to call him out of the water. But he didn’t respond. He was searching for the tennis ball in the water, but the ball was still on the sand. Zeke bobbed in the choppy sea, turned round and round in circles searching for that ball and then he started swimming out even farther. I was screaming for him by then, pretty panicked.
Herb never panicked. He knew what to do. He picked up the tennis ball and threw it so it landed right in front of Zeke’s nose. Zeke, thinking he finally found it, took the ball in his mouth and swam to shore.
Herb ran back for the towel while Zeke shook the freezing water off his body. Then Herb wrapped the shivering pup in the towel and carried him all the way back to the car. It was a long walk and Herb was tired, but he wouldn’t put Zeke down. He held him in the car and rubbed him dry while I pumped up the heat.
Something that could have turned awful ended up being loving memory. That’s how it was with Herb. Beautiful.
Rest in Peace Herbie (10 years March 9) and Zeke (who died after Herb, of a broken heart.) Rest in Peace my sweets.