Meet Abby, the relatively famous rescue dog.

I met Abby last month while vacationing in Spring Lake, New Jersey.

Abby is a small Black Lab mix, and a very intelligent one at that.

She loves the water, she loves to retrieve things, and she knows how to surf.

That’s right. Abby made it onto the Weather Channel for her remarkable ability to navigate a boogie board in the swimming pool to retrieve a ball without her getting wet.

She also responds to hand signals, is able to cease wagging her tail on command, and can differentiate among objects while retrieving.

As is evident by her name, Abby is more famous than most humans. Her surfing videos have gone viral and she even has her own Facebook page.

As is also evident by her name, Abby is a rescue. She was saved from a kill shelter by the Jersey Shore Animal Center and adopted by a loving family that is sharing her talents with the world.

I have always loved dogs and have learned a lot from them in my life. From Angie I have learned something about finding zest and joy in the simple things.

And maybe something about appreciation too.

My girlfriend and I ventured out early that hot August morning to walk the beach before the beach tag patrol came out and charged us for the privilege.

We were strolling along when up ahead we saw a gathering of people standing around watching dogs running in and out of the surf.

I did a double-take. Were those dogs?

Sure enough. It seems that Spring Lake reserves a section of its beaches for early morning dog play. It’s apparently a popular activity, because there were a lot of dogs and their owners out that weekday morning.

We wandered up to chat with the people and watch the action. There were all sorts of breeds out there that morning: Labs, labradoodles, spaniels, poodles, a Chihuahua mix. Even a couple of Great Danes that loped along like horses.

The dogs were checking each other out, chasing each other, running circles in the sand.

Among them was a little black Lab named Abby that was having a grand time retrieving balls and floatable toys tossed into the water.

You think you know what joy is until you have a chance to watch Abby retrieve things in the water. She would charge into the water to grab the ball and ride the waves back in, eager to do it again.

She loved the game so much, in fact, that she would retrieve balls being tossed out for other dogs.

I got talking to her owner Elizabeth, who told me of Abby’s unusual intelligence and talents. This was a dog that was set to be euthanized before the animal center came to the rescue.

The experience has made Elizabeth and her family into advocates for dog shelters. She is convinced that Abby is aware of and grateful for her good fortune.

Watching Abby that day, I got to wondering why more people aren’t full of zest and joy for the little things like Abby, instead of allowing ourselves to get all bogged down by our imagined troubles and worries.

After all, dogs and humans share about 75 percent of the same genes. If we only had 75 percent of Abby’s joy, think how happy we’d be.

Now you might object – well, if I were a dog, I’d be joyful too. No responsibilities. No bills to pay. No awareness of our own mortality.

True. Or maybe it’s just a matter of perspective. Maybe all of the stuff that bogs us down is all in our heads.

Maybe that’s why we have dogs: to remind us that joy is found in the present moment.

Maybe dogs like Abby are rescuing us, not the other way around.

Something to ponder.

Peace,

Jim