Poor Skittles and the Fourth of July
by Glenn and Susan Whaley
Some of you haven't yet had the pleasure of meeting Skittles the Seadog. Among canines, she is truly a noble beast. In fact, she is almost a legend among a whole host of peoples I'm certain you've never heard of. For instance, as a scourge of pirates, she knows few peers: It's a matter of record that there hasn't been a pirate sighted on the Chesapeake Bay in literally years. Or a squirrel, either. And as a navigator, she is a true marvel. Bay lore has it that once, when it seemed all was lost, she was able to get a true fix from crossed bearings using only a westerly cloud and a passing seagull. Truly a wondrous animal! Unless, that is, it's the Fourth of July. For, in the proximity of even the most mild mannered fireworks, Skittles - intrepid soul that she is (do dogs even have souls?) - turns into a pitiful pile of puppy protoplasm at the feet of her Mommy.
So much for legends.
This is how it was one recent Fourth of July weekend....
Skittles crewed for Glenn and Sue Whaley on Bay GyPSy, a very fine Hunter 310 that was based out of Belvedere Yacht Club on the Magothy before the days of Trinity. (Of course, most boats you probably know merely moor, are tied up, or are berthed at their homeports. An anti-pirate vessel, however, is 'based'. It's a distinction that is very important to Skittles. Try not to get it wrong.) As it happened, the officers and crew of Bay GyPSy were out for the long holiday weekend, exploring the northern regions of the Bay. The Sassafras River, to be exact. After a full day exploring and patrolling the upper reaches of the river, scouting good anchorages for the night along the way, Bay GyPSy settled for the evening in a pretty little cove for supper and a pleasant evening, just enjoying the breeze and peacefulness. Supper and Skittles do great. In fact, pretty coves, peaceful evenings, and supper are some of Skittles favorite things. So two out of three wasn't bad....
Hot stuff from the grill. Chips. Drinks. A quiet cove with no bugs. Lots of good stuff going on. Everyone was having a great time, even Skittles. But then the sun went down, it got dark, and the anticipation mounted. Among the people, that is. Skittles sensed the excitement, but didn't have a clue. That's how it is sometimes with sensitive, alert legends. They just know something is up.
Way up. Like, high in the sky. That's when it happened. An explosion of light. An explosion of sound. And Skittles was undone just like that. She couldn't find her mommy's feet fast enough. She's very fond of her daddy, it's true. He's her pal when it's playtime or exercise time or even treat time. But when it comes to the true need for compassion and understanding in moments of total panic and raw terror, there's just no one quite like Mommy.
With the first burst, she was at Mommy's feet. With the concussion grenade, she was in her lap. And by the time the show was well underway, she had found her way up around Sue's neck. She just couldn't get close enough. It was a very long 20 minute show for one very pathetic, very forlorn puppy. She lived, but just barely.
By the way, did I mention that Skittles doesn't really like to do her business on the boat? She has a mat laid out up forward for her very own convenience. But it just doesn't compare to a nice patch of lush green grass. In fact she didn't use her mat for almost the whole long weekend. We thought she just didn't have it in her. Well, that evening we found out that yes, in fact, she did. Turns out she didn't need the grass after all. Or even the mat, actually.
So what if a legend tarnishes a bit with age? Skittles is still the best pirate dog out there.
Even if she did ask for a pass on going out on the Magothy to watch the fireworks this Fourth.