Our brief, pre-surgical trip to Virginia Beach

September 3, 2012 | By | Add a Comment

Continued from Sept. 1: Standing at the intersection of hope, fear and gratitude.

Sept. 2, 10:10pm

We made it to Virginia Beach safe and sound – and on a gamble. We had really nasty thunderstorms in Charlottesville until around 2:00p today, and I didn’t actually get on the road until 3:00pm. We set off, and about 15 minutes into our journey, a light bulb went off in my head – “Hm, maybe I should call ahead and see what the weather is going to be like in Va Beach, before I make this long (3 hr) drive?” I have my moments, hm? Well, there was a 50-50 chance of scattered thunderstorms. I chose to roll the dice, in large part because I’m a glass-half-full kinda guy.

My faith was rewarded, to a limited extent, by the fact that we were able to enjoy some good time at the beach. It was a shock for Shayna, as expected. She’d not seen the ocean in six years (I am not happy about that), and at first, was like, “You want me to do what??? You want me to walk out into that big, churning thing, just to get a ball? You’ve got to be kidding. This has been a long drive, and I think I’d just rather sit here for a while and chill.” But in this case, I persisted…. encouraging her, like the dad I aspired to be once I discovered that a dog can be much more like a little kid than a… dog.

As the video below shows, gradually, over the course of about 10 minutes, Shayna started to realize that I was not going to let anything bad happen to her. At least in this narrow context. (How I wish I could ensure her health and wellness in all other regards. The hardest realization of my adult life was: how much it hurts to say those words, about one’s little girl. I made a promise to her on the day I adopted her that I cannot really keep. To never let anything hurt her. Not because I don’t want to, and wouldn’t give pretty much anything to ensure… but because I don’t have the ability to make that promise – nor does any other “parent” of any kind. It sucks, but it’s reality, and there’s no debating it.)

Anyway, here’s the video of Shayna as she was transitioning from fear, into trusting me – and herself:

And here we are, shortly after we arrived, and navigated our way through a congested hodge-podge of vendors and bicycles and lots of people on the beach boardwalk, on a holiday weekend. It was a lot for Shayna to take in, and it was very loud, but she was a trooper, and as long as we were together, I think she knew everything would be okay:

Update: Sept. 3, 9:00am: Shayna sees her first-ever sunrise over the ocean

(The following was written at a nearby Starbucks, after we finished up our first visit to the beach of the day; she enjoyed resuming at least this part of our normal routine.)
After a long day of activity, including a 3-hour drive, thunderstorms, then visiting the Atlantic Ocean for the first time in six years, and encountering thousands of people, a rock concert, and the churning waves, Shayna had a good, hearty dinner, then we did our training (yes, I brought a few dozen of her toys with us), and she had her yogurt (fat-free, plain) and a rawhide, she was bushed. She remained in this position, deep in sleep, until about midnight, when (thanks, Virginia Beach) fireworks started. She immediately ran into the bathroom and wouldn’t come out until the wee hours, despite my assurances that everything was okay.

By the morning, Shayna was ready to get out of our little room. We ventured out at about 6:30am and walked along the ocean (video to come), and as you can see, my gamble paid off: it was a gorgeous oceanfront morning, and we got to see the sunrise together. For the first time. And it was bliss.

7:00am at Virginia Beach, Sept 3, 2012

The video of this bliss:






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