Dogs cannot stay in the Inn at Silver Bay, which may be the one thing that’s wrong with it. So while we vacationed this summer, Gus was far away in dog jail and I suffered from pooch-deprivation. But one morning, walking back up from Slim Point, I saw a Labrador Retriever in the company of a young girl who was watching her mother play tennis.

I stopped and said, “Can I say hello?” And the little girl said, “Sure.”

“What’s your dog’s name,” I asked, and she replied, “Bailey.”

I held out my hand to Bailey, expecting a nose bump or a dog lick, but instead, Bailey took most of my hand in her mouth; my thumb stuck out on one side and the tips of my fingers showed out the other.

“Don’t bite, Bailey!” said the little girl, but I was not worried. There is really only one way a Lab can hurt you, and that is when you bend over in greeting and the dog jumps up and breaks your jaw. It’s not on purpose; they just have really hard heads. Bailey was not jumping up. Bailey was softly chewing my hand, a dreamy expression in her dark brown eyes.

I grew up with a Labrador; they are bred to retrieve game undamaged and have what is called “a soft mouth.” Bailey, who was new to the world in February, still had some baby teeth I could feel. There was really no chance of pulling my hand free; Bailey was not going to drop this duck.

With my left hand, I began scratching Bailey behind her ear. Bailey, though young, was not born yesterday. She realized that if she let go, I could scratch her behind both ears. That was how it worked out. In parting, I looked once more into her brown eyes, thanked the little girl, and walked up to the Inn, a little less lonely.

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