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The Reason I Moved To Florida

I’ve written so many articles over the gazillion years, I cannot, for the life of me, remember when I said this tidbit:  I love the beach.

It’s really the reason we moved here. Sure, there’s that family thing and the Disney/Theme park bit, but, really, it’s because the beach. I grew up for a decent chunk of my life on Long Island. On Saturdays, I’d ride my ten speed, inner tube dangerously around my neck, and would head to the north shore of the island and hang with my friends, a few coins in a plastic lunch bag for ice cream or a soda.

We had no concept of sunscreen, then.

On Sundays, if my mother didn’t have to work, we’d pile into the station wagon and head down to the south shore of the island and spend breakfast, lunch, and dinner down there. Playing in the waves, eating Red Vines (they didn’t melt!), and all the leftovers Ma could fit into the cooler. The one without wheels.

So I knew when I moved here, the beach would fit into my month endeavors.

However, something happened during my stint in the hills of Colorado. Colorado is massively dog friendly. Everywhere we would go they would always have options to include your reasonable canine. We were luckily, too, since we have smaller breeds, so they tended to be very good for travel to Estes Park and such. Cafes always had an outside option; to-go choices were always available. Rooms at hotels tended to be flexible, but did also match up with the rooms that allowed smoking.

I knew, when I moved here, I wanted to see if my little pups would handle the wonder of the sands.  

It’s weird, though, for all the laws protecting dogs and cats here in Florida, there aren’t many dog friendly beaches, or, at least, it seems that way. The closest I discovered to the Orlando area was in New Smyrna and Flagler. So? We elected to see if the corgi we adopted would like the beach as we did. And, in the process, we learned a bit about how to take care of your dogs and enjoy the beach.

Now, I probably should put a word of warning. I’m not a vet. Just an Average Joe with the ability to do research. This article is to create a dialogue. Do your research, don’t trust me, a stranger on the interwebs as your only source. Think about your dog, should you elect to go. How does your dog behave with strangers? With strange dogs? On a leash? Think of it as a huge, uncontrolled dog park, with tides!

Like traveling with children, you know your situation better than I do.

Now that the warning is underway, here are some things I’ve noticed about taking our own Dottie Mae to the sands at Flagler Beach.

First? Gotta stay on the leash. Our dog is great at this, but she does tend to want to run, so I’m just waiting for a dislocated shoulder down the road somewhere. Worse? Sands tend to be hot, and dogs sweat their heat out of the pads of their feet. So running can even equal cooling. Now, the beach we selected, where dogs are allowed between Gamble Rodgers Memorial State Park and 13th Street in the brief township. There is no formal parking, just pull-overs up and down A1A. There’s very little traffic, but the cars there are ZOOMING. We ended up having to carry our little friend across the road and back-and that took timing like the video game of Frogger. So? Be careful! And keep that leash handy, both on and off the sand.

Secondly, hydrate. Humans are terrible about this and my own husband has suffered from his bad choices. If humans don’t take care of themselves, think about an excited mutt. Have fresh water constantly available and refreshed. And, since most dogs not raised here in Florida aren’t familiar with the ocean, watch them near the salt water tides. They’ll see water. They taste delicious salt. They’ll drink their fill of that and, well, bad tidings. Drink water before they go in the water.

Keep shade handy. We tend to have a huge umbrella for us anyways, and this beach? It’s merely breakwater and rocks, sand, and ocean. No trees. No wonder they open it for people for dogs. Everyday tourists probably won’t flock to such sparse choices. The sand was clean, but it was evident it was ungroomed. Broken shells and driftwood abounded. Keep an eye on where your jogging pup is going.  There’s noI knew, when I moved here, I wanted to see if my little pups would handle the wonder of the sands.  

Keep shade handy. We tend to have a huge umbrella for us anyways, and this beach? It’s merely breakwater and  vet nearby; no emergency room for humans, let alone canines. We kept her on a tight leash and let her go outwards in concentric circles. Ours is still young, and I noticed that her sniffing kept leading to random tasting. Be careful.

Next, dogs are born with the ability to paddle, it is innate.  However, that’s on still waters. Waves through us off, can you imagine if you were a qua-draped? The choppier the ocean, the more potential for problems. Sandbars? Fish in the water? And still on a leash? I recommend staying close to shore. And don’t be one of those tourists that forces their youth to go on every ride at the Magic Kingdom; er, forces their dog into the water. Our dog freaked out at the incoming waves and elected not to head in. Good for her. She still loved the beach and had a wonderful time running and meeting the joggers on the sand.


Now, supposedly, there’s sunscreen for dogs. I’ve noticed a trend of people who shave their dogs for the heat in Florida. Not recommended, as the fur acts like a natural barrier from the heat. However, their ears and the areas around their noses can get sunburned. Keep that in mind! I have not used the sunscreen, but it is on the list of things to try!

So many rules? Where’s the fun? The fun is born out of being with a family and enjoy the Florida sun. We found an awesome space at this long beach, away from others and set up our base camp. It was glorious and, really? Dottie LOVED it. She slept for a decent three days with playing and chasing everyone! Give it a go! And let me know of more beaches!

Contributor: Joe Triggs-Smith

Joe Triggs-Smith
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