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The suitcases are coming out! Mom Amy packed my doggy life vest and Dad Frank packed the kayak. That means that we’re going back to that place where Leftie the alligator lives. I can’t wait to see if she’s sunning in her usual spot. Best of all, I’ll get to retrieve sticks in the waves again!

It’s been a long winter of being stuck inside because of the cold and the insanely deep snow. One time I leaped off the shoveled sidewalk to chase a squirrel and was buried alive!

I’m so eager for warmth and the ocean that I’m the first one in the car. After a day of travel, we stop and the fun begins. I get to stay in a hotel room! Honest to paws, this one is great with all kinds of tantalizing smells. I know a male poodle stayed here a few days ago, a cat a while before that, and, treasure of all treasures, I find something the cleaning person missed. Crumbled Doritoes! Under the bed! Oh, glorious day. I scarf them up before anyone can stop me.

Mom leads me out into a courtyard with even more intriguing smells and, bouncing tennis balls! A robin! At least I think it’s a robin. I haven’t seen one in a while. Let go of the leash, Mom! I have to chase it! But, no such luck. Cautious Mom hangs on. I forget my disappointment when I catch a whiff of that male poodle. In case he ever returns here, I leave a message of my own.

Mom and Dad change clothes and Mom sprays herself with that sweet-smelling stuff. It’s as bad as that dog cologne she likes to squirt on me. Seriously, Mom. P.U.!

Mom tells me I have to wait, and then they leave. I plop in my doggy bed and wait, and wait, and wait. It feels like they’re gone forever. When they finally come back, I want to jump on them, but they’ll scold, so I just jump in place. Up, down, spin around. I’m so happy to see them again!

I’m doubly happy when I smell that Dad brought me back a piece of hamburger. I swallow it in one bite and then smell his breath. Ha! He also had fries, but he didn’t bring any of those back for me. I snort.

“You didn’t like that burger?” Dad asks.

That’s not what I’m saying. I have to tell you, loyal readers, sometimes my humans aren’t real bright. When Dad pulls out the bag of jerky, though, and gives me a big piece, I forgive him.

The next day we’re stuck in the car again, but by sunset, the smell of the ocean is close. Dad comments on the warmer temperature and Mom gushes over seeing blossoms and something called Azaleas.

The car finally stops. I hear seagulls. Mom lets me out. Pelicans rest on posts, but Mom, always the buzzkill, won’t let me chase them. “Time to unpack,” she says. Doesn’t she realize the pelicans might not be there after we’ve finished with chores? We need to seize the moment and have fun now.

Mom and Dad waste more time organizing stuff and then we have to sleep, but finally morning comes and we head to the ocean. Dad searches for just the right stick. He throws it in the water, but it’s too far out. I only like to go up to my belly, but I have to get that stick.

Crash! The waves pound me. I’ve got to get better at judging them. Once the breakers retreat, I wade in and snatch the stick. I bound to shore before the next wave hits.

Dad throws the stick again, and I rush in up to my belly, letting the waves wash away the winter. Beach life, here I come.

I dedicate this column to my good friend, Mary Smith, who asked me to write another one.

Amy Laundrie is a retired Lake Delton Elementary teacher and the author of eight books. Her latest, “Laugh, Cry, Reflect: Stories From a Joyful Heart” features earlier columns about pets, nature, teaching, and family. Contact her at laundrie@live.com or www.laundrie.com.