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March 16, 2017

Finding Ourselves at Montrose Dog Beach

  Over the past few years I've learned my dogs are the compass by which I navigate the uncertain territory of my own identity. The needle of this compass does not point outward to true north, but inward to true self. That needle led me across the continent, pointed me down the wedding aisle, lifted me to blissful heights, dragged me through hell, and showed me the way out.  That needle is love. Not the love shared between people, or even the love shared between people and dogs. That needle is my dog's unmitigated love for the present moment.  And when I let that love guide me, there I find myself. Again.
  Rhodesian RIdgeback, Puppy, montrose dog beach, chicago, marking our territory, zeroOver the past few years I’ve learned my dogs are the compass by which I navigate the uncertain territory of my own identity. The needle of this compass does not point outward to true north, but inward to true self. That needle led me across the continent, pointed me down the wedding aisle, lifted me to blissful heights, dragged me through hell, and showed me the way out.  That needle is love. Not the love shared between people, or even the love shared between people and dogs. That needle is my dog’s unmitigated love for the present moment.  And when I let that love guide me, there I find myself. Again. Because that’s what the inspirational quotes never tell you about finding yourself. It’s a full time gig. Despite being tethered quite securely to these bodies of ours, it’s remarkably easy to lose yourself. Even when you do manage to find yourself, you eventually get tired, or upset, or confused, and before you know it you’re lost again. Thankfully there are many ways we can find our way back. Some go to prayer, some go to therapy, some go to yoga, some go meditate, some go for a run, some go paint. Some do a bit of it all. Me? It seems my compass always points back to Montrose Dog Beach. The day I visited the beach for the first time with Zero I felt more like myself than I had in a long time. Zero needed no explanations or introductions – he simply took off across the sand with unbounded enthusiasm. Rhodesian RIdgeback, Puppy, montrose dog beach, chicago, marking our territory, zero He raced in one direction, then another, then chased a floating leaf, then jumped on a bench, then fell off a bench, then barked at a bench, then took off running happier than before. He had no idea what he was doing and he loved every minute of it. I can relate. Rhodesian RIdgeback, Puppy, montrose dog beach, chicago, marking our territory, zero We stayed at the beach until Zero’s puppy-battery finally gave out. He flopped on the sand with the exhausted contentment I’ve always admired about dogs. They give the moment everything, so there are no regrets when it’s over. Because when we left the beach that day there was no guarantee we’d be back. One day is always your last day at the beach. But that wasn’t ours. We woke the next morning to ominous skies and whipping winds. So we went to the beach. Rhodesian RIdgeback, Puppy, montrose dog beach, chicago, marking our territory, zero A cold front hit Chicago the next day and sent temperatures below freezing. We put on our coats, then went to the beach. Rhodesian RIdgeback, Puppy, montrose dog beach, chicago, marking our territory, zero Each trip to the beach is another opportunity to find myself. As I find my path, so too do Penny and Zero discover their own way forward together. Each learning from and teaching the other about their shared life. The snowstorm hit that evening. The next morning was a frenetic rush of shoveling, scraping, working and trying to catch up on my to-do list.  The snow threw off my day, I got frustrated with the backlog of work I’d let pile up and I had no time to take the dogs to the park. Until I was reminded of the old zen saying, “You should sit in meditation for twenty minutes every day – unless you’re too busy. Then you should sit for an hour.” I was too busy, so on went the jackets and out we went for some snowy meditation. Rhodesian RIdgeback, Puppy, montrose dog beach, chicago, marking our territory, zero The problems I lose myself in simply cannot match the power of watching a puppy galavant through the snow in a fur hooded jacket. Rhodesian RIdgeback, Puppy, montrose dog beach, chicago, marking our territory, zero Watching Penny and Zero at the beach always reorients me towards what’s important. I’ve noticed the further I get into these inward journeys, the more useless words become. There’s simply no way to navigate the deep jungle of ideas, impulses, feelings, memories, consciousness and subconsciousness with language. Thankfully my dogs are kind enough to wordlessly guide me each day. Rhodesian RIdgeback, Puppy, montrose dog beach, chicago, marking our territory, zero  

Comments for Finding Ourselves at Montrose Dog Beach

  1. meANXIETYme says:

    Beauty in motion! And in stillness. Lovely!

  2. Victoria Coleman says:

    i so love Zero in his coat – he is too cute in that fur lined thing!! Looks like those 2 had a blast – day after day -despite the crazy temps and snow – thanks for sharing – i always need a laugh or a smile to start my day off right

  3. Fran says:

    My dogs don’t have the beach but a big backyard n I love to watch the race, the chase, the play of the pups to get out the energy n they don’t care if it is cold in florida, off they go. I just watch n enjoy. Love u guys

  4. it is like an awakening somehow to see your two pups there… I totally love the coat, he reminds me a little of roald amundsen :o)

  5. Gretchen Frank says:

    Truer words have never been spoken Will. No matter what my day has been like or what the weather is being able to get out with Baron, and often our other ridgeback friends, is my meditation. Nothing beats watching the dogs romp unabashedly through whatever the day brings them. Right now here in Maine we are back into coats and snow romps and loving every minute of it!

  6. That hood billowing in the wind as he runs never fails to crack me up. I’m going to miss that thing once he’s too big for it.

  7. TheRidgebackLife says:

    And yet, you always seem to find the perfect words. Thanks again for the smiles, Will.

  8. Haha, he cuts quite the dashing figure!

  9. Ellen Quilty says:

    It certainly looks as though Penny loves her little brother.And his coat!It looks like an old fashioned snow suit similar to the one I had as a toddler which is what Zero is right now.So adorable!

  10. Dashlilly says:

    The coat!! The fur lined hooded coat!!! What a great post. Love every word. Thank you

  11. Connie Taylor says:

    I love the picture of Penny sharing the stick with Zero, as if she is saying “Here at the beach, sticks magically appear and its our job to play with them each time we come here!”, and the last photo is pure contentment before heading back home to crash in front of the fireplace . So glad Zero was able to experience his first snow storm. (You can always catch up on your work, but you can never recapture moments like these again.)

  12. Emmadog says:

    You are so right. Mom finds her zen moments in our dog sports. We will be in the middle of class or a competition, and all of the sudden she realizes how at peace and happy she is and how everything else in her life is forgotten during that time. Walks have a similar effect but the concentration in our dog sports really works well. This morning she didn’t have time to walk us all much, but once out, she decided walking longer was the right thing to do, and now she feels better being home working. Great post. PS Zero, you need to lose the hood, it creates drag while you run 😉

  13. Audrey says:

    Penny and Zero got the meditation down perfectly, just look at the last photo, there’s the proof!

  14. LOVE, LOVE, LOVE ….we all get lost (me? A LOT!! lol)…..how lucky you are to have two beautiful babies and a great beach to help find yourself, (even if the search is always continuous, isn’t it for all of us?) (((hugs))) and LOVE those jackets!

  15. Jodi Wood says:

    You always put me in the best mood and help me get thru the day! Love your words! Pure joy out with the dogs. I especially love your paragraph about “many ways to find your way back, some go to therapy, some meditate.” My “beach” in SLC is taking off on a hike with the dog! Totally know what you mean. Thank you again.

  16. Deena Sadek says:

    Wonderful pictures and such a true sentiment. My dogs do ground me everyday and always bring me joy. The pictures of Zero romping and playing are just priceless. Those ears!!….they really say it all.

  17. Jo Rhodes says:

    Zero’s coat looks like human hand me down, too cute! How do you not lose Zero off leash? Does he have recall already ?! Five days left ’til spring .
    You’re in the moment, Jo, Sam and Dean

  18. Andrew Crothers says:

    If only we could all be more like dogs!

  19. Michael Bondor says:

    Love the coats!

  20. Your old Zen saying is one I’m gonna have to remember since lately I too have allowed myself to be “too busy” with life’s hiccups and commitments. It’s so good to find yourself in that hour. Truly good. And what better ‘travel guides’ than your two special Ridgebacks.

  21. I tell my niece I’m going to give it to her after Zero grows out of it.

  22. That coat is so ridiculous and silly and I never would have bought it and I’m so happy I have it.

  23. Zero got all four seasons of beach weather in one week! And you’re absolutely right, the work was there for me when I returned. It took longer than I wanted, but after the trip to the beach all the frustration melted away and it wasn’t an issue.

  24. That hood flapping in the wind cracks me up. I call it his resistance-training. And like you, I love catching myself in those perfect moments of peace. The more time we spend with our dogs, the more likely we are to find them.

  25. As the buddhist said to the hotdog vendor, so too do Zero and Penny say, “Make me one with everything.”

  26. We’re very fortunate to have such a wonderful place nearby. The ridiculous puppy jacket is an added bonus!

  27. Hiking is another awesome meditation when shared with pups. SLC is one of the best places in the country for it too. Glad we could help share a smile.

  28. Between the hood and his ears it’s like he’s got three sails attached to his head.

  29. I told my niece she can have Zero’s coat as a hand me down if she wants. The beach is fenced, so even if Zero had any inclination to escape (which he doesn’t…yet) he couldn’t go anywhere. It’s a great place to build and practice his recall.

  30. KarenS says:

    The joy that only a dog running untethered can bring. Or two blissfully tearing up the turf. Penny appears to have taken her position of big sister well. And Zero seems to be a quick student in the study of how to bring happiness to oneself but others as well. Seriously envious of their romp on the beach. I want to join in too

  31. coastingnz says:

    Their enthusiasm for the runs at the park have been captured beautifully. Have to say though I am looking forward to Zero growing into a new coat…… lol Dogs are the best teachers of all things about life. We need to look to their guidance more often.

  32. Jo Rhodes says:

    We’re so jealous of your fenced in beach! Make sure you have that recall down before he realizes he can sail over those fences. 🙂

  33. Shalini says:

    LOVE this. Zero looks ridiculous (in a VERY cute way) in that jacket. It’s almost like the wrinkles he will grow into.

  34. Thank you for sharing these pictures of Penny and Zero. Seeing dogs so happy can lift any dreary mood.

  35. Kismet says:

    I can relate to the part about not knowing what I’m doing.

  36. It’s absolutely infectious. Your spirit can’t help be lifted as the pups lift their paws off the ground in full romp.

  37. Haha that coat is so absurd. Between it and his ears flapping in the wind he looks like a sailboat.

  38. Oh yes, practicing lots of that at the beach this week. Luckily Zero follows Penny around everywhere, so that’s been quite helpful

  39. So true. I’ve arrived to the dog beach in a bad mood many a day. Rarely ever left with one.

  40. Pretty much the underlying (and overlying) theme in everything I do.

  41. Ginny says:

    Happy Pups, so joyful. Zero should have been named Zeus, he is going to be. BIG boy!!

  42. Shirley Andonie says:

    As always, great writing and great photos that are always are so uplifting!

  43. These are fantastic photos! We haven’t had a chance to take our puppy (seven months) to a dog beach. This would be on the shore of Lake Michigan.

  44. Kali and Max says:

    Who is the Ridgie with the red collar with Zero in the third photo?

  45. Thanks! Glad we could help share a smile.

  46. Tell me about it. Won’t be long before the tables are turned on Penny size wise.

  47. Living in the city we don’t have a yard, but we’re fortunate to have the dog beach so close to home. Such a great place to visit with the pups.

  48. An imposter! Tough to see since the photo of him is cut off, but that guy is actually a Vizsla. Penny and Zero both have a natural affinity for playing with bird dogs.

  49. That looks like a great place to run!! Wish we had a dog beach that was close by, daddy Simba loves water!

  50. Beautiful! I’m happy for all of you.

  51. coastingnz says:

    indeed! Great “ear” shots by the way

  52. Didn’t realise you had a new pup, so pleased to hear about Zero, who looks so cute in his puppy coat. May you all have a wonderful life together.

  53. For sure. I’d follow those two anywhere in those jackets. They clearly know what’s important. Eye on the prize. Then off the prize. Then on the prize. Then off the prize…. All in.

  54. Thank you! We’re making the most of our time together.

  55. Robyn Brown says:

    Zero’s jacket is the best!!!!!!

  56. Zero’s jacket is awesome. Was that yours when you were a kid?

  57. Saved just for this occasion! I told my niece she could have it after Zero but she didn’t seem interested for some reason.

  58. The joy in those photographs is contagious! Thanks so much.

  59. Thanks for yet another beautifully-written reason why dogs are so awesome. No wonder the name dog is so closely related to God.

  60. thereggway says:

    Happiness comes with four paws and a bark!

  61. roberta m says:

    If there was ever a photo essay opportunity for portraying “living in your truth”, these photos would win hands-down. Their joy just pops off the page–what great companions. You are both so lucky to have each other!

  62. Lekhamisra says:

    I enjoyed your post! And both the dogs are so so cute!

  63. Thanks so much for the high praise! Every day I get to spend at the beach with my dogs is a great day and reminds me of just how fortunate I truly am.

  64. Thanks! I’m a bit biased, but I think they’re pretty cute too.

  65. That was such a wonderful read! And the photos … I could feel the energy, enjoy their happiness, smile at the sight of your dogs in coats. This made my day!

  66. Lekhamisra says:

    Mostly when they are running !

  67. Love your dogs! They seem to love life and are willing to bring you along for the ride. We can learn so much from our animals and I am sure they know we humans have a learning curve.

  68. LA dogs are not allowed on beaches. Your dogs look very happy. My little Mandi would probably love to meet them. However, she loves our cats .

  69. pibblelife says:

    These photos are seriously PAWESOME!!!!!!

  70. Thank you! Glad we could share a smile to help start your weekend

  71. My skull is quite thick, but fortunately my dogs are patient teachers, willing to show me the way again and again.

  72. After traveling the country with my dog, I know just how fortunate we are to have an amazing beach so close to home.

  73. I loved hanging out at Montrose beach dog park even though I don’t have dogs. Just so peaceful to watch them play, I’d skip work some days when it was too stressful and spend 2-4 hours with a good book, a notebook, coffee and a sandwich. Thanks for this reminder

  74. A great read and you can’t help but smile at each of those pictures!

  75. Monte Parker says:

    The doggy sweaters are ADORABLE. I’m obsessed with these pictures, you should make a doggy calendar out of these photos <3

  76. The dune above the beach is the perfect spot for watching. Even if you don’t have a dog, you can’t help but enjoy the pure bliss of the pups running along the sand.

  77. Thanks! Dogs are always great at sharing their joy with us.

  78. The faux fur hood is ridiculous, but also ridiculously cute.

  79. This is a wonderful article. I smiled reading it and looking at the pictures. It made my day. Great job!

  80. Amazing photos and such a great piece!

  81. Mr. Cool says:

    Amazing photo shoots!!

  82. Those top photos are just beautiful. Louise

  83. chicagopig says:

    Your photos are amazing! Your dogs make me smile. We love visiting Montrose Beach too! Just not with our pig!

  84. […] Source: Finding Ourselves at Montrose Dog Beach […]

  85. […] Source: Finding Ourselves at Montrose Dog Beach […]

  86. This is actually such a refreshing take on the world that we live in. So many times we get lost in the rapidness and the insanity and miss out on the now and all of its glory and awesomeness. Thanks so much for showing the world that halving a point to stay grounded by is incredibly important 🙂

  87. This made me so happy!

  88. motgpr2014 says:

    Love the name Zero.

  89. Oh lord. I am in love! I adore Ridgebacks! I am living in an apartment so had to get a mini poodle instead but these photos are beautiful!

  90. baestasia says:

    I love your pictures

  91. Julia says:

    Hauntingly beautiful post. Animals are a great way to keep us present. Some better than others (I have a fish).

  92. Thanks, I’m fortunate to have good models.

  93. Well said. Luckily I have my dogs to remind me of that important truth.

  94. Glad to hear it! Fortunately our dogs are always willing to share their joy.

  95. Thanks! I’m a bit biased, but I think it’s a pretty good name too.

  96. We’re apartment dwellers too, and while we don’t have a backyard we’re very fortunate to have the beach for the pups to run wild.

  97. Thank you. And very true – when we lose ourselves, often the best way to find our way back is through our pets – whatever shape and size they may be!

  98. chicagopig says:

    No but I saw that!!! We use to have a Jack Russell and loved going to Montrose beach up until he passed. The pigs you have to be careful with though because they are technically a prey animal and dogs as predators can feel an innate need to attack them! I’m thinking about taking Elly to the museum campus beach since that’s normally less crowded!

  99. Vinay C says:

    This post was so awesome! Loved each and every bit of it! Especially the images and the self discovery descriptions! Thank you!

  100. Great writing, your description of your days on the beach put me right there. Loved the pictures of your dogs, they look like they’re fun to be with. Thanks

  101. Kevin Baum says:

    Great article and photos; Montrose beach is great!

  102. CandzAfrica says:

    Oh this is so lovely

  103. Rhonda says:

    So enjoyed this post. Dogs are amazing. They have no sense of what is to come and exist only in the now. We learn so much from them don’t we?

  104. I don’t know Zero personally, but he seems great. He looks like he had so much fun

  105. Chrellie says:

    Beautiful post! I am a cat person with two furry children, but I feel that they do a similar thing for me that your dogs do for you. Sometimes the best thing to do is to get on the floor with them playing toss and retrieve with their toys. Especially when I’m tired after a long day, and I think I have nothing left… Our furry friends are amazing!

  106. chunkshouse says:

    His ears are so floppy! so cute.

  107. Thanks! And I agree, there’s few better ways to recharge your soul than to spend time with yout pets.

  108. rannochwall says:

    This was a lovely post. Our dogs are as evanescent as lightning and as eternal as the land. Your image of them as an compass that points to immersion in the moment was much appreciated. I lost my old friend two months ago, but your writing evoked the fact feeling that the “power of the dog” gets close to the immortal.

  109. Cristina says:

    Inspiring ! Live in the moment and enjoy it to the fullest 🙂

  110. So cute! Dogs seems to be very happy:)

  111. I absolutely love this post! You are so spot on with everything here, I never realized before but I find meditation watching my dog too. Whether he’s so content, sleeping in a cozy bed or frolicking through the yard, it’s such a firm reminder to enjoy the moment. It’s amazing just how much joy a dog can bring to your life. Beautiful post!


  112. - says:

    This is your first post I have ever read. The dogs, your style of writing, beach and the name Zero is all so awesome. Keep writing 🙂

  113. Alyssa says:

    Aww bless, lovely photos of the dogs 🙂

  114. Fantastic post. I find such peace in being out in the world with my dog. Watching him love the world because it’s here and it’s beautiful opens my eyes to that to

  115. kabsetters says:

    Great post and adorable dogs! Enjoyed reading and all the pics 🙂

  116. I am in love with Zero, so cute!!!

  117. palismaid says:

    I simply loved your story and pictures. Those Obie’s are tops!

  118. palismaid says:

    Those dogs are tops. Sorry my fingers went sideways

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