We had a group of people in church this morning who were going off later to see the basking sharks further down the coast. I was explaining to them that these sharks were not of the "jaws" variety that in fact they were quite harmless and that it was possible to swim with them without any aggression on either side. They were frankly sceptical but it was true...they didn't even eat my dog!
When Crispin was a puppy, he and I swam most days during the summer. He was an excellent swimmer, used to swimming in first the Essex rivers and then the sea. He did not do dog paddle in an ungainly, splashy way. He was elegant and laid back in the water, looking as if it was his natural element.
When we moved to Cornwall permanently it was easy to walk down the lane and into the water just below where we lived and I would swim out a long way with him at my side as though we were on a walk.
One summer there were a lot of basking sharks about. They were about two or three feet long and came up to look at us, never once showing their teeth! Mostly because they apparently don't have any!
Crispin reacted badly to start with but when I didn't worry about them neither did he...we had some lovely afternoons out with the sharks.
He was great company and often when we were out from the shore on our own we would meet people either in boats or like ourselves, just enjoying a swim. Being a friendly animal he would wag his tail to greet them. Unfortunately this meant that he lost his stroke and almost always went under. Up he would come spluttering and sometimes I worried in case it put him off. No, he took everything that came his way in his stride.
We havn't been in the water together for a couple of years now. He's had the odd splash along the shore but not a proper swim like we used to have. We are both getting old I suppose.
This year he will be 14. I would love to take him for one last swim together but I think it might kill one of us. I'm just not sure which one!