I’ve come to the conclusion that one of the best reasons for having a dog is that they open doors. I don’t mean REAL doggy doors. No, our dogs open the door for us to interact with local people everywhere we go. It matters little whether you’re in the Bahamas, Fort Lauderdale or the Marshall Islands, when we bring the puppies ashore we meet lots of new people.
This happened this past week out at Eneko Island. It was a Monday, so we were surprised when around noon the first boatload of kids showed up and dumped about 25 people on the beach. It was mostly kids with a few adults. Two more boatloads later and our quiet little beach had become quite busy. The little rustic resort has two kayaks for people’s use and soon groups of kids and adults were paddling out to check out the boat and setting off the Canine Alarm System. Any savvy burglar would surely notice that a prominent component of our Canine Alarm system is wagging tails and doggy smiles. Smiling Marshalese people were paddling out all through the early afternoon to see the boats up close. We’d hear “Cute dogs!” or “Nice boat!”
What we tend to forget living here is that most of the people who live here in Majuro don’t have access to boats. They don’t come out into the lagoon to see the boats — not because they aren’t interested, but because they don’t have a means.
After some work on the book (of course, I feel it’s never enough, but I did do some!) we took our dogs in the inflatable kayak and headed for shore to find out what the story was behind the beach day. It turned out that an American man was visiting in advance of a visit by a group of Muslim doctors. There is a small mosque in Majuro with a Muslim community of about 300 people. The visitor was the brother of one of the doctors and he is a member of Muslims for Peace. He had, out of his own pocket, hired the boat to ferry the kids out to the beach since that Monday was a half day for students. Wayne stopped to talk to a group of men and several of them wanted to have their picture taken with Ruby. As usual, the dogs were the doorway to getting to know these kind people. They had a picnic spread on the tables and they offered us their food with big smiles.
I took off down to the water with Barney and he was a real hit with the little kids. Let’s face it — he looks like a toy and when the kids discovered he wouldn’t bite, they started lifting him up and hauling him around by his midsection. He looked pretty miserable, but he was patient with them.Everyone wanted to hold him. I finally put him on a plastic kayak with a group of boys and they had a grand time — as did Barney since the seat on the kayak was filled with water and there’s nothing he likes more than having his own little pool.
When it became clear that the dogs were tiring of the attention of a crowd of kids, we got our inflatable kayak and carried it down to the water. Immediately, a half dozen kids piled on. There was no room for us or the dogs. Then one boy stood up, gave a little shriek and leaped into the water. Well, that started what seemed to be the most fun game on the beach. With the kayak filled with sandy kids and dogs, they’d stand up and jump into the waist deep water.
Wayne finally said, “Okay, one more time.” Of course, each kid took up that refrain and as they climbed back into the kayak for the fifth and sixth time, they kept pleading, “One more time!” We finally got ourselves and the dogs into the boat, and as we paddled away from the beach, we could still hear little pleading voices calling out, “One more time!” Wayne and I looked at each other smiling, both knowing what the other was thinking. Kids all over the world aren’t all that different.
Yes, our dogs can be noisy and messy, and yes, sometimes they drive us crazy, but they certainly earn their keep with all they bring through being our doggie doors to new friends.