Posted by: Dennis | August 21, 2009

A weekend at the Coast

Everyone makes it out to be such a tough decision- one filled with such doubt and tentativeness. But, for me- for us- it was so natural, so comfortable. Even when we had only been together  for a few months, it made such sense to be thinking about our future. After all, we had already been great friends that spent all of our time together for so long before we had begun dating.

Do I somehow remind you of a ring?

Do I somehow remind you of a ring?

At first, we would make light of it. We even got caught by a co-worker at the jewelry case in a local CostCo, who interpreted the sighting as a genuine search for a ring. (This is Jenn, to bring your dose of snarky/less-germane comments, such as: Really? CostCo for a ring? That’s definitely…unromantic…at best.) A few months later, we were doing some browsing at Fashion Island in Newport Beach (a much sexier locale) while visiting SoCal for Thanksgiving. We walked into one particular studio and immediately loved the unique design of the engagement rings. (I spent a lot of time browsing around that website. A lot.) In the spring, we came back to look again with the intent to choose one together. (Dennis was already in LA for work, but I actually went down with the express purpose of ring shopping. Best travel reason ever.) We were both thrilled with our choice, which we colloquially call ‘Stewie.’

So the engagement was not a surprise. Nor was the timing. Jenn had been accepted into her first-choice MD-PhD program and had planned to take some time off before starting. Her quasi-parents were coming to visit the week after she quit her job, and we wanted to be able to share our excitement with them. We planned a weekend trip to the Surf Sand Resort in Cannon Beach, which we were particularly drawn to because of the dog-friendly features (of course Crawford was going to have to be included in such an important event).

Sure I love sports, but...

Sure I love sports, but...

As the ring and the timing were set, I was left with the details of the proposal itself. Feeling like I knew Jenn pretty well by this point (or so one would hope), I decided that an extravagant public spectacle wouldn’t be the best choice. There would be no sky-writing and fireworks, no Jumbotron. Even a public display in a small restaurant seemed beyond her (and my) comfort level. So I secretly made reservations at what seemed would be the nicest restaurant in Cannon Beach, and ordered up one of the romance packages available at the resort: rose petals in the room and on the bed, champagne, breakfast in bed (I was actively trying to not know about the details, but I found the hotel and knew the romance options, even if I wasn’t sure what Dennis would choose.) And I specifically requested that they set it up while we were out at dinner- and not before we checked in- hoping that might throw her off (Actually, this did throw me off. I expected maybe something, but then nope! Very tricky, this one). The plan was simple. Check-in, get settled, take Crawford out for a stroll on the beach, get a nice dinner together, come back to the room, surprise! and then the actual proposal. (Alas, if only it had gone that way. So simple, elegant. But definitely wouldn’t make as good a story as what you’re about to read.)

The trip could not have started off any better. As typical after his Saturday puppy classes, Crawford was exhausted. Perfect set-up for a long drive out to the coast, during which he was zonked out in his crate. The sea breeze was refreshing after an uncomfortable stretch of unseasonably warm weather in town, and the hotel was all we could have hoped for. As we checked in, I was a little anxious that the staff would let it slip about the romance package, but thankfully they were professional and discrete. Our third floor room had full glass doors that opened onto a patio overlooking the ocean, with Haystack Rock maybe a quarter mile south. (It was perfect. So amazing waking up to a new life together with such a breathtaking view.) We had plenty of time before our dinner reservations, so we unloaded our belongings and then headed out for some exploring. (One of the things I was most looking forward to was Crawf having his first serious beach adventure.)

As we headed out, we clarified with the hotel staff about dog-leash rules on the beach. We got a shrug- there really aren’t any rules other than common courtesy, such as clean up after your dog. If your dog is safe and not a danger to others, he’s free to roam. (Cue the ominous music.) Once out on the beach, Crawf was in heaven. I’m not sure if it was the texture of the sand, the sound of the waves, or some doggie-pleasing scents, but he literally had a spring in his step. He’d prance to-and-fro, making big circles around us as we walked along the surf. Others took notice, too. One lady deliberately followed us for a couple minutes to tell us how watching our puppy run around with such joy made her smile. Crawford would greet other dogs excitedly, as if looking for another dog to share how great this place was.

I think he first spotted the Great Dane- I feel like calling him Hamlet. They tend to be rather large, and he’s had fun with a few at the parks on different occasions. And then there was Hamlet’s brother- staying with the Shakespearean theme, let’s call him Iago- a black lab, curiously still on-lead (again with the music). A nice-looking family sat with them. As we made our way over, we started up with the usual small talk, the usual ‘How old is your Vizsla?’ icebreaker. Crawford had gotten a grumble from Iago and decided it better to spend his energy playing with Hamlet instead.

I might break into a soliloqy about my guilt for aiding and abetting.

I might break into a soliloqy about my guilt for aiding and abetting.

It all happened so quickly. In the spirit of play, Hamlet lunged at Crawford, who misinterpreted the giant dog’s overtures and tried to find the nearest escape route. This took him right into the path of Iago, yes that Iago (MUSIC CRESCENDOS). In one quick movement, Iago’s jaws locked onto our little guy’s chest and proceeded to lift him into the air, then slam him onto his back in the sand. The owners were quick to free Crawford from Iago’s canines, and even though he looked okay at first, a closer examination revealed a dribble of blood and a deep gash on his right chest. (I’ll never forget the family’s 5 year old boy, “I”m so sorry my dog hurt your puppy.” You could hear the shock in his voice.) In general, I’m one to let nature takes its course with cuts and scrapes, as an inspection of the many old scars on my arms and legs will tell you. But, in this case it was at once obvious that Crawford’s wound needed stitches. (There were a few minutes of lag between the attack and when we found the wound, which we spent pretending to be 100 times more upbeat and happy than we truly felt- all in the hopes of preventing lasting emotional repercussions for Crawf. The gash was just well-enough hidden; we only caught it when the bleeding became too hard to miss. Then we got moving, and quickly.)

Cannon Beach can get crowded on weekends in the summer, but it’s never a bustling metropolis. It seemed doubtful that we would be able to find a vet on a Saturday evening, but Jenn started working her new iPhone to figure out our options. With the help of the hotel staff, she determined our best bet was up the coast 25 miles in Astoria. (I also had directions mapped out, all before we even got off the beach.) Dinner reservations were cancelled, especially since the restaurant offered only a single seating time for its four-course meal. After getting Funkle cleaned up in the hotel shower, (and driving 40 minutes on painfully slow speed limited “highways”), we arrived to find a large waiting room out of the 70’s that was unstaffed. After a call, a kindly older man emerged from the back, “Yep, he’ll need stitches, but he shouldn’t need to stay overnight. You can pick him up in an hour and a half.” If not for clumping Crawf’s injury as another dog fight (Our dude did not fight back! It was an attack, pure and simple), we could not have hoped for more. (For some reason I was expecting us to be with him while he got stitched up. Zero dice. The door closed, and I totally lost it. We’re talking loud sobs and unfettered tears. Dennis looked rather alarmed- I had been keeping it all in for the puppy’s sake, and I don’t think either of us realized how much we were shaken until that moment.)

Whatever happened to Chunk or Shorty from the Temple of Doom?

Whatever happened to Chunk or Shorty from the Temple of Doom?

Rather than try to find the house from The Goonies, (Dear Reader, this confused me too. Don’t worry about it. It’s probably a generational thing.) we decided to spend the time on the ocean overlook. There wasn’t a lot of activity, but we had a great view of the Pacific. Jenn played a mix of romantic songs (on my iPhone- volume was an issue) and we slow-danced together while the sun set, even as Crawford endured a set of stitches a few hundred yards away. Being together and able to make the best of an emergency vet visit that spoiled our engagement plans- yeah, I’m pretty sure I want to spend the rest of my life with this one (if you haven’t gathered from previous posts, I can be prone to understatement at times). (And what can I say? Random Shakespeare references, sentences like the previous one, and being so supportive when I’m a post-dog-attack emotional wreck…I can’t be anything but completely sure.)

We picked up our dude with his five new stitches, along with a course of prophylactic antibiotics, and some painkillers (all for $75, plus Hamlet’s family kicked in for half), and went back to our vacation. The hotel room was now in its romance-package state, but Jenn acted like it didn’t spoil a surprise (she’s really great, isn’t she?). Crawford recovered in his crate, while we scrambled together some dinner plans. Afterwards, our  little one came out with us on a moonlit walk on the coast. (It was so sad watching him try to walk at first- he looked so uncomfortably drugged.) Finding a little more privacy from the bonfire enthusiasts as we walked further south, we stopped near the shadows of Haystack Rock where I got on a knee and proposed. (Point of fact, he got on both knees, which rested on his flip flops. No sandy pants for my Dennis.) As we embraced with her reply (read: I got on my knees as well, which were thereafter sandy), Crawford put his paws on our shoulders and furiously licked our faces.

Altogether, it was a wonderful weekend. The worst outcomes from the experience: missing out on a nicer dinner (I refused to look at the menu of what we missed- the replacement dinner wasn’t great), a bit of alopecia at Crawford’s wound site, and the activity restrictions he was still under when his q-grandparents visited. (They didn’t get to see him run! A Vizsla is not a Vizsla without running.) The best: being able to share with everyone we love how happy we are to have one another.

Finally (the real) photographs in chronological order (click to make enormous):


Sunset from our room.


Haystack Rock, the local land (sea?) mark.

Crawford's stitched wound. It's healed very nicely now :)

Crawford's stitched wound. It's healed very nicely now 🙂

Artsy, romantic.

Artsy, romantic.

Our Stewie. Simple, elegant, architechtural. Perfect for us.

Our Stewie. Simple, elegant, architechtural. Perfect for us.

The morning after we got engaged! So, so happy.

The morning after we got engaged! So, so happy.



  1. CONGRATS! Leave it to a vizsla to hi-jack your best laid plans!!!!

  2. How sweet are you two! What a great story 🙂

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