In 1976, I was a kid who’s Mom didn’t want dogs in the house. Lucky for me, my Dad owned a flower shop with guard dogs. These dogs were my pets and Rufus was my favorite. Rufus was a sweet German Shepherd and we loved to take long walks together on the sand dunes of the Delaware River beach in Palmyra, NJ, just under the Tacony Palmyra Bridge. It was heaven running up and down those hills with Rufus, and we had a lot of fun. Sometimes, my brother, sister and I would take a corrugated flower box and launch it onto a 3 foot deep puddle near the sand dunes. These boxes were waterproof as they were built to keep flowers alive during long international flights from South America. My sister loved to get in a box with Rufus and float out over the 5 foot of puddle heaven. It was a thrill and definitely safer than a lake or the Wildwood Beach. Rufus was always a good sport and we rewarded him with a nice wet romp through the puddle. I bet it felt good in the blazing 90 degree heat. The song “Shannon” was a big hit on AM radio that year and I always wondered if Rufus would end up “drifting out to sea” like poor Shannon did. One day, we arrived at the flower shop and Rufus was gone. He got off his leash and headed for the hills. I cried when he left us, but, like the song says,

“Shannon, is gone I heard She’s drifting out to sea
She always loved to swim away
Maybe she’ll find an island with a shaded tree
Just like the one in our backyard.”