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El Perro Negro and the Flip Flop

Vieques, Puerto Rico

One of our favorite places here on Vieques Island is the National Wildlife Refuge. It used to be a US Naval Base. It has the best, most even stretch of paved road on the island. At the end of the main road it splits into various branch trails that lead to some of the most beautiful beaches on the planet.

Because of the quality of the road, it’s the perfect setting for our morning exercise regime. John drops me off at the entrance and he drives on to our favorite swimming spot, Playa Caracas. He walks the beach and I run/walk (about 2.6 miles) to meet him there. By then, we are both quite sweaty and ready for a dip in the Caribbean Sea, with awesomely beautiful surroundings.

Pure paradise!

The first time we figured out this idyllic routine, there were three barking dogs that greeted me as I neared the beach. I firmly told them to “go home,” and they kept up the barking, but left me alone. I soon figured out that this beach was their home.

The second time they barked a bit, but tagged along until I got to the beach.

By the third time they were waiting for me, wagging their tails, ready to escort me to meet John. They had officially become our “beach” dogs.

Today, as I neared the beach, my canine welcoming committee wasn’t there to greet me. I figured they must have slept in, or taken the day off. After all, our routine takes place a 6 a.m. (when the gate to the Refuge opens) most mornings.

When I got to the beach, I couldn’t find John either. Mini-panic! I knew he was there, because our car was parked in its usual place. I went to the car to get ready to swim and noticed that one of John’s flip flops was on the hood of the Jeep.

Then I caught sight of the black beach dog (the cutest and probably youngest of the three) bounding onto the beach with his tail wagging. Chasing behind him was John, with no shoes on. His tail was not wagging. In fact, he had a serious look on his face and was shouting at the playful pup.

It had been John’s habit to leave his flip flops on top of our towels near the water as he did his morning walk along the beach bare-footed. This morning the black dog (Perro Negro) had thought it would be a fun game to pick up one of John’s shoes and hide it in the jungle foliage along the beach. I couldn’t help but giggle, but as John ambled toward me I put on my pseudo-serious face and helped him look for the shoe.

We asked the few other people at the beach if they had seen the negro perro with a flip flop in his mouth. No joy. Then we tried to sweet talk Perro Negro into showing us his hiding place, but all he did was leap along the beach wanting to play.

We searched for awhile as Perro Negro followed us in and out of the trees and sea grape areas along the beach. He was having a great time.

Finally, John resigned himself to the fact that he had just donated a chew toy to the canine population of Vieques. We went to the car and prepared to leave. Perro Negro followed and looked up at us, with sad eyes, as if to say, “Come on guys, let’s play some more…”

I glanced at John and said, “Honey, uh, one flip flop isn’t really going to do you much good…”

My wonderful man sighed, opened the car door and tossed his remaining sandal to the anxious dog saying, “Here ya go buddy, now you have a matching set. You win.”

As we drove away I glanced over my shoulder and saw the frisky negro perro prancing proudly along the beach with John’s flip flop in his mouth.

I think he was smiling.

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2017,Puerto Rico

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