Firstly, I want to apologise for the quality of these pictures. My camera is a basic one, I'm not a photographer, and I really just wanted to focus on enjoying the experience!
Anyone who knows me well, will know that Hayling Island is my happy place. My dad lived there for a while and fell in love with the island, so naturally we spent a lot of time there when I was a child. My parents now own a caravan there, and it's my absolute favourite place for a weekend away. We took Archie there a few times last summer... look how cute he was during one of his first trips! Like most places it's not always dog friendly (there aren't all that many restaurants which allow you to take dogs in, etc) but the beach is fabulous, and it's a lovely place to walk.
Having said that, until yesterday my two crazies had never actually had a free run on the beach. When we last visited with Archie it was peak season, when dogs aren't allowed on the main beach, and as far as I'm aware Winnie had never been to the seaside at all!
When I got Winnie, I relied heavily on dachshund-focused facebook groups. No amount of research in the world can fully prepare you to take on a rescue dog with some issues, and it was (and still is!) great to have thousands of people you can call on for advice. I joined a few local daxie groups and was pleasantly surprised to find that many of them go on regular group walks; when I saw one arranged for Hayling Island, I knew I had to go. It was perfect that Archie and Winnie would experience their first seaside freedom in my favourite place on earth!
We met at the Ferry Boat Inn (a lovely place to eat, and to sit on the terrace in the sun with your dog) and walked across the sandy beach at low tide. In all the years I've visited Hayling, I've never walked on this far side of the beach! Now I know how lovely it is, I think I'll return again and again.
Now, my two can be little hooligans... so I was wary to let them off lead. They tend to behave totally different on group walks though, so I bit the bullet and took advantage of having the beach mostly to ourselves. They absolutely LOVED it. Archie made best buds with another daxie, Dexter, and sprinted up and down the beach gleefully. Winnie just loved being free; she likes to trot along with the pack but mainly she does her own thing, being slightly older and slower than the rest. She repeatedly ran along, ears flying, before stopping to look out to sea. I honestly could have cried at how happy she looked... when you rescue a dog from a poor life, every new experience is that bit sweeter. Archie will always have the most wonderful life I can give him, but Winnie had never even been a proper pet before she came to us. It makes me so happy to see her enjoying life.
We had a lovely time, and as I said, I'll definitely be taking the dogs back to this spot. In fact, I'm hoping to take them back again this week if my parents are up for taking their dogs too! We finished up our walk with a cuppa at the little café hut nearby, and the doggies slept like logs the whole drive home!
Do you regularly take your dogs to the beach? It's something I'm hoping to do much more often this year.
Chloé, Archie and Winnie