Keywords: Vegan, Beach, Dogs
Ailish and the Rat
“I love running. I absolutely love running!” Ailish exclaimed. Her paws dug into the warm sand, propelling her forward with ever increasing speed. Her tongue tasted sea spray as it hung out of her big, wide, open grin, and her wiry gray hair rippled in the wind she made.
A little brown Chihuahua zipped across her path, heading for the water, and she saw him just in time.
“Oh!” she exclaimed, jumping to the side in a graceful stop.
“You are big,” the Chihuahua commented, pausing to sniff at her ankle. “But you are not a horse. What are you?”
“I am an Irish wolfhound,” Ailish said proudly, her head tall. “My breed used to hunt wolves.”
“Well good for you,” the Chihuahua returned, raising up his own nose. “Mine used to hunt rats.”
“Oh?” Her black eyes twinkled down at him. “You certainly look like one.”
“I am not a rat!” he growled indignantly. “I am a vegan.”
“A vegan?” She’d heard of the beasts before but never met one. They were not as dangerous as she’d thought. She wondered if they all looked like rats.
“Clearly you know nothing,” the Chihuahua huffed, pitching sand at her with his back paws.
He resumed his course for the ocean, and Ailish cocked her head curiously before deciding to tag along.
“I know one thing,” she said, wagging her tail hopefully.
He ignored her and plunged into an oncoming wave, beginning to paddle.
“I said I know one thing,” she repeated, stepping in front of him.
He glared at her leg before swimming around it and under her belly. She twisted her head around to watch the outgoing wave carry him along, and she sighed when she saw the tip of a triangle fin not too far before him. She couldn’t just leave him now.
She stepped farther out, and the water moved up to her knees, her ribs. The Chihuahua still paddled confidently ahead of her, and she began to think she may need to swim.
“You do know about the drop off?” Ailish called out.
“The beach ends here. The reef isn’t far off.”
She shook her head and pushed off with her paws, strong strokes bringing her alongside the little vegan in moments.
“You seem to be the one who knows nothing,” she said in a firmer tone, using her wide chest to push him back towards the shore.
“Hey, hey,” he sputtered, trying to keep his head up and out of her rough, shaggy hair. “You are assaulting me! Stop it!” And he nipped at her ear, which he realized instantly was a mistake, but he was a proud little Chihuahua and not used to being pushed around.
“You ungrateful rat,” the wolfhound woofed. She jerked back and away, then puffed through her nose mightily in his face.
He watched her swim for shore without another word or look in his direction, then he shrugged off her rudeness and resumed his pleasant swim, grateful that in spite of her ferocious looks and history of assaulting wolves and Chihuahuas, she seemed to have an easy temperament.
The water grew suddenly colder beneath him, and he shivered a little.
“I should turn back,” he said to himself. “This is not so fun when it’s so cold.”
He turned around towards shore and paddled, paddled, paddled.
“Wolfhound!” he called out. It sounded small and quiet in the wide expanse of the gentle waves, but she heard it.
Ailish turned, her nails sinking into the wet sand and foam tickling her toes.
“What do you want?” she barked.
“There is something under me!”
“Yes, I imagine so!”
“What do you mean?”
“I mean, I caught a shark here yesterday,” she said with a loud sigh.
“I hate to break it to you, little rat,” she called. “But I know for a fact sharks aren’t vegans.”
She heard fearful, screechful yipping and watched him surge for shore like a snail, but when the triangular fin appeared again she turned away sadly. There was nothing more she could do.
Ailish trotted back to her calling mistress and lay down beside her, soaking up the summer sun and revelling in the gentle hand running between her ears.
“This is the life,” she rumbled softly, her eyes half-closed. “I shall take a nap. When I wake up, I shall chase the sea gulls. And then–” she yawned. “And then, I think I shall catch a shark.”