(1) Snips and Snails and Puppy Dogs’ Tails
Flip flops, bikinis, and sun-kissed skin are all ordinary sights any summer day in paradise. They mingle among the serenity and beauty of a quaint Long Island town, becoming part of the scenery. As the sun peeks through the dissipating wispy clouds, a magnificent Swallowtail butterfly flutters in the subtle breeze, unnoticed. In a nearby tree the delicate coo of an unseen Mourning Dove wakes the residents and visitors of this sleepy realm like a faint alarm clock sounding in the distance. The prancing, White-tailed Deer, may be overlooked as well, but these are all extraordinary indigenous fixtures on the East End of Long Island in the treasure-town of Southhampton.
Amid the hustle and bustle of summer revelry and relaxation, the influx of beautiful tourists with their designer clothes and sophisticated talk, crowd the outdoor cafes along the busy thoroughfare. They sip fruity wine from local vineyards and taste a variety of home-grown vegetables and delicious desserts. The visitors have a way about them that’s elegant and distinguished. It’s all very picturesque and postcard-worthy.
The one-of-a-kind shops, aligned like toy soldiers, are inundated with vacationing customers eager to open their wallets (2) and spend oodles of money in an effort to help the local economy. The friendly shop owners welcome the wealthy travelers with opened arms as they do the locals who frequent their establishments. The clothing stores with their designer labels, the antique shops with their vintage pieces, and even the art gallery with its eclectic paintings and sculptures all enjoy the summer revenue.
With all the comings and goings taking place on the main street in town, during the season of perfect weather, it’s easy to pass by the unwanted, four-legged, furry, guest with the strategically placed adopt me sign across the back. Too much activity and enjoyment is going on to notice the well-behaved, leashed, dog with his floppy ears, misplaced spots, and bent tail.
But wait, the kindness of the neighborhood merchants emerges through all the frenzy. They welcome these beautiful creatures into their stores, creating the possibility that someone will not simply glance at the unwanted dogs, but they’ll pet their silky heads, and strike up a conversation with the volunteer handlers.
(3) Today we have Diamond, a beautiful brindle pit, with golden eyes and a sweet-as-pie disposition. She lumbers alongside her human volunteer and settles herself on the floor of a jewelry store. The customers gather around as the conversation about this wonderful dog swirls. Diamond sprawls out on her belly waiting for someone to pet her. She licks the hand of a little girl and accepts a treat from the store owner.
Where do these animals come from, you ask? From the other Hamptons; Hampton Bays. Nestled among Mountain Laurel, Bayberry, and Golden Heather, amid tree-lined trails, creeks, and slow-growing moss, is Red Creek Park. Although it’s home to the leisurely-moving Eastern Box Turtle, the scurrying Pine Mouse, and the Southern Flying Squirrel, it’s also a safe haven for neglected, unwanted, homeless animals.
For located in the center of glorious and abundant nature is the Southhampton Animal Shelter, a humble gem of the community, where many creatures seek refuge. The no-kill shelter isn’t famous for white, sandy shores, juicy grapes, bi-color corn, mansions, or chic fashion; it survives on donations, dedicated volunteers, and hard-working staff that all devote their time and energy to caring for sick, lonely, and dispossessed animals.
(4) Walking proudly, into the lovely town of Southhampton, with a shelter dog by your side is a feeling unmatched by any other. The golden opportunity awaits the puppy-mill dog, the rescue from a kill-shelter, or the owner turn-in. Dogs don’t care what kind of jewelry the people wear, they don’t care about expensive clothes, or cars, or money. None of it can hold a candle to fresh air, singing birds, buzzing insects, and the gentle hand of a passerby, stroking their fur and eager head.
These dogs are waiting with furry paws and panting breath for a family to love and be loyal to. The compassionate volunteer hopes beyond hope that maybe one family enjoying the summer sun, and Hamptons in all its glory, will bypass the trendy puppy store chain for the latest in-vogue designer dog and instead adopt a shelter dog that needs a forever home. They may not have the pedigree, but they’ll be the most loving, loyal family member ever.
Sip a latte, enjoy some retail therapy, and soak up the luscious surroundings and picture-perfect weather on the charming East End. Then take a moment to observe the imperceptible treasures that live and breathe among you. Open your hearts and gander at the furry pup, with the adopt me sign, (5) traveling your same street and wagging his tail frantically in circles, waiting for some love and attention.
After you catch some rays and the scent of the ocean breeze, during your summer getaway, take a stroll through the woods and visit the sanctuary tucked into the landscape of Red Creek Park. Remember the haven in the Hamptons and the furry creatures within. It’s there for a reason, not just a season.