I know what the first family will do on their vacation. Pretty much what everyone who visits Martha’s Vineyard does — the beach, water sports, farmers’ market, a movie if it rains, shopping, maybe a sailboat ride. I can’t help wondering what the first dog will do. And I’m curious about what kind of an entourage he’ll bring with him. Does he have a personal groomer? Chef? Poop scooper? That would make a good Possible Dreams auction item. “To the highest bidder goes the opportunity to follow Bo, the first dog, picking up poop, for an entire week on beautiful Martha’s Vineyard.” Who wouldn’t love that?
I know that the indigenous dogs can’t go to the beaches during the day, but Bo’s family will be using a private beach and since he’s a water dog I think that will make him deliriously happy. Especially when he finds dead fish or seagull poop to roll in. There are not enough Secret Service agents in the world to prevent that, so keep Canine Clippers on speed dial. They make house calls. This will also be essential considering the skunk population. I don’t know who coined the phrase curiosity killed the cat, but I’ve had dogs and cats. The dogs are far more curious. Especially if they’ve never seen a skunk. Their cautious gene has been bred out.
But it takes more than a swim to make a puppy happy. Dogs generally like to get into a little mischief but that must be hard to do when you are surrounded by treasury agents. I could suggest a few activities he might like. The dogs at the farmers’ market always seem kind of happy, at least the ones who get snacks or are allowed to greet the other dogs. The ones who aren’t permitted to mingle usually look frustrated or bored. After visiting the market Bo might want to take a stroll across the road to visit the West Tisbury animal control officer at the up-Island gas station. There’s always a good supply of dog biscuits available.
Then there’s shopping. The Vineyard is a very dog-friendly place. Many shops have bowls of water outside their doors and even the banks have a supply of cookies at the drive-in. The best dog shopping is Good Dog Goods and, of course, the Black Dog.
There are many dog parks where Bo could get to know the Island hoi polloi. If he’s going to be a regular visitor for the next (hopefully) eight years he’ll need to know some locals who can grease the wheels for a vacationer’s needs. I would suggest Trade Winds in Oak Bluffs which generally has a good selection of pups on any given day. Enough new smells to keep him busy.
In the evening Bo might be tempted to chase rabbits. He should, however, restrict himself to the ones on the West Tisbury side of the estate since the Chilmark rabbits are likely to have tularemia.
The go-to activity that thrills any dog is a trip to the transfer station in Edgartown — off season known as the dump. The aromas are enough to drive any canine wild. The best day to go is Tuesday. The caretakers make their garbage runs on Sunday, and it’s closed on Monday so there’s 48 hours for it to ferment. My dog, Guinness, actually cries when we toss our refuse into the bin. He can’t believe we would discard something that smells so delicious.
Yes, Bo can expect to have a wonderful vacation on dog-friendly Martha’s Vineyard. But there are two things he might want to avoid unless he has a vet in his retinue. Ticks, which carry many diseases, are ubiquitous no matter how much rent you pay. He might want to add a tick picker to his ever growing entourage. And feral turkeys can ruin your day. They travel in packs and can fly. Just take my word for it — walk away and your nose and eyes will thank you.
Carolyn O’Daly lives in Katama.