Monday, September 12, 2016

fort desoto dog beach.

When Chris and I went to Florida to get Trixie, her foster mom Pat took us to an amazing leash-free dog beach there called Fort DeSoto dog beach. Fort DeSoto park itself is a huge 1,136 acre place made up of five interconnected keys, with beautiful natural ecosystems and more than 328 species of birds. The key with the park on it juts out into the Gulf of Mexico and right at the very tip is where the park is located. There are two giant, fenced in play areas - one for larger dogs, one for smaller - next to the parking lots, along with dog showers. There are also signs pointing to the dog beach, which is where we went.

Fenced dog park areas. (Photo from

On our way to the beach!

Now, let me remind you - Pat had five Jack Russells with her at the time, four of her own and one of her fosters. She is truly a blessing to the fostering community because she is right there offering her home and love to so many dogs in need and giving them a great temporary home while they wait for their forever home. But going anywhere with five Jacks is an adventure! Plus, Chris and I tagged along with our Trixie and Zoe, so there were seven dogs altogether. We were quite the crew that day.

Anyways, the dog beach itself is gorgeous. It is three acres and is one of the few beaches in the state that allow dogs, let alone dogs off leash. The water is crystal clear and while the sand down near the water is rough (full of broken down shells), it's not rough enough to hurt the dogs' paws. I'm not going to lie, I was a little freaked out about the possibility of sharks, mostly because Shark Week had recently ended and Florida is the most dangerous place for shark attacks in the world. I didn't see any while we were there, but that didn't stop me from frequently (and perhaps obsessively) scanning the water all day. 

How gorgeous is the beach?!

I was also nervous about letting Zoe off of her leash since she has only been loose a few times in her life (when she slipped her harness, and she always ran away like a bandit and it was hard to catch her). She swam a bit in the ocean but the waves were pretty high for her - she was the tiniest one there, after all - so I held her with me in the water to cool off when she wanted to. When she wasn't with me, she stayed off leash and stuck with our pack, mostly sitting on the beach watching her new friends play. I am never ceased to be amazed at what a sweet little well behaved dog she is.

Swimming in the Gulf for the first time.

This has to be my favorite picture of her ever.  What a goofball!

Because we went on a Monday afternoon, the beach wasn't crowded at all, and we spent a few hours playing in the water, swimming, and relaxing on the sand. Molly, one of Pat's own dogs, absolutely loves playing with tennis balls and spent the entire time bringing one of us the ball, waiting for us to throw it, swimming out to get it, and repeating the whole thing over again. Two beautiful labs came to spend some time with us and Molly was very dismayed to learn that they also wanted to chase after the ball. She discovered that if she started swimming out into the water first, she could get a head start and beat them every time - how funny! The next morning she was so exhausted from chasing the ball that she could barely get out of bed and walk!

Molly's dreams must be made of huge pools full of brand new tennis balls.

The little lady never gives up!

Pats foster dog, Devlin, was shy when we met him at first but he quickly warmed up to us and got even more friendly each time we saw him. At the beach, he wasn't too sure about the water but I had brought a floating frisbee-like toy and with just one throw, Devlin decided that that was the toy for him! Just like Molly, he kept fetching it and bringing it back, standing adorably at my feet - dripping wet of course - until I threw it out again. I was so proud that he decided to swim that day, because even in the few short days we were there with him, he made such progress to come out of his shell.

It's amazing what will bring a dog out of its shell.

Poor Devlin looked so pathetic with his coat all wet! But he was still incredibly adorable.

Swim, swim, swim.

Trixie, the Jack that Pat has with the short legs who shares the name with my Trixie, was the social butterfly of the beach! She spent her time prancing up and down the sand, visiting each group of people with their dogs to say hi and check on them. She brought back a few dogs, including a hipster sheepdog with a man bun! I never thought I would see such a thing!

I guess the dog wanted to make sure he was in fashion!

Patrolling the beach.

Hi guys! Whatcha doin'?!

She always made sure to come back and check in on us, and give us giant hugs & kisses.

As usual, Petey and Buddy were our protectors, just hanging out with us for the day, soaking up the sun, and making sure no rogue dogs got in our way.

Buddy is such a gentleman, so handsome and kind.

Petey is sometimes grouchy, but he makes sure to always be in your lap or right next to you.

Our Trixie was kind of scared of the ocean - she had been swimming a lot at Pat's house, where there is a pond, but not at a place with waves. She couldn't figure out why the water kept moving and what all this blue stuff trying to rush over her head was! She did try swimming a bit and did very well, but she was just as content to sit on the sand and take everything in.

She put in her best effort at trying to swim, but was overwhelmed.

She didn't mind sitting on the beach like a princess.

Overall, it was such an amazing experience! I am so thankful that Pat took us to this beautiful place. The dogs had a great time, and so did we. I think that it was a perfect opportunity for Trixie to bond with us and for Zoe to enjoy herself on vacation and get to know her new sister. 

Trixie loves riding in the car.

Somebody got worn out!

It was a much needed relaxation for Chris and I, and we loved getting to hang out with Pat more. The one and only negative side was that spending the day with her and her dogs solidified how fantastic they are, and made us miss them even more when we left! The dogs each have such distinct, incredible personalities (including Pat!) and we miss them all so much. But we wouldn't have taken back our visit for anything - and we can't wait to go back!

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