Today settled it. Our 1 1/2 year old lab is still (slightly) out of control at the beach. At least he’s improved since the first time I took him.

Dogs are allowed to roam freely on portions of the local beaches for nearly ten months of the year from after the Labor Day holiday until June 16. A sweet deal for sure.

Barlow was about ten months old the first time I took him to the beach and let him off leash. He had no sense of social boundaries. He is a very friendly dog, and assumed every dog would be thrilled to meet him. Not so. Fortunately, he didn’t learn the hard way.

Now, he’s better at reading doggie signals. He’ll still greet every human he sees even running into the water to do so. He’ll still drop the ball in the middle of retrieving it and dash off to greet a new arrival. He’ll still sprint down the beach playing a game of chase, leaving me behind. But at least now, he returns to me (eventually).

Buddy, our previous lab, was more interested in retrieving the ball than greeting everyone and every dog. He made me think I was an amazing dog trainer. ha!

Recently, I took Barlow to the beach with my daughter and her two dogs. I thought Barlow could learn how to swim in the waves and retrieve the ball from the oldest dog – Dodger. However, Barlow and Jax (the younger of the two) spent more time wrestling in the water than retrieving.

Once, Dodger (a yellow lab) was by himself in the waves searching for the ball when we saw a black head pop up in the water. We hadn’t seen another dog run out through the waves; we realized it was a seal checking Dodger out! The seal swam around Dodger for a while. Dodger was so focused on finding his ball, he didn’t even notice.

I wonder what Barlow would have done with the seal. I imagine he would have had a fun time splashing around in the waves. Maybe his (slightly) out-of-control behavior isn’t so bad after all.

(Attached is a rare picture of Barlow retrieving the ball – worn out from greeting others)