Me and Josh knelt on the warm sand. The quartz crystals sparkling up at us from the bright sunshine. Muffin sat nearby, her black curly head tilted to one side. Doggy supervising our building efforts.

We were on the third sandbar away from the shore where most people liked to lounge and play. Packing the sand hard first, we upended our buckets. Making battlements and turrets for our castle.

Josh was going to let me do the moat around the castle as well as the long channel leading to the sea water between us and the next sandbar. We always made a sturdy sand dam. Ready to break when the tide came in.

My favourite part was smashing the dam and watching the water rush along the channel to surround the moat. Waves sloshing along the way.

“Trish,” hissed Josh.

I looked up.

He jerked his head towards Muffin.

A skinny boy in saggy blue swim trunks was talking to Muffin. “I told you to stay with me. Come on.” He grabbed her collar and began leading her away.

Muffin looked at us. Curious about what was going on. Curious just like us. Me and Josh looked at each other and shrugged. Nodding our heads to Muffin, she went with Saggy Pants. He took her past the fourth sandbar and the fifth. Walking through the shallow water between each sandbar. Finally stopping at the sixth.

I looked over at the shore. There was a small shaggy black dog trotting along.

I looked over the sandbars at Muffin. She had sat down, and was watching us alertly. I patted my thighs and called, “Come on, Muffin.”

She wasted no time. Racing back to us. Leaving a wake behind each time she sped through the water. Panting and smiling when she reached us. Wig wagging her tail. I patted her on the head. “Good girl.”

“Look who’s back,” said Josh.

Saggy Pants was trotting towards us. Slow. Puffing heavily. When he finally arrived, he grabbed Muffin by the collar. “I told you to stay.” He started to lead her away. Again.

Josh nodded to Muffin. Her brown eyes sparkled. She always liked new games. Clearly she was having a blast with this one. Muffin followed Saggy Pants all the way out to the sixth sandbar.

I wondered, was he really too stupid to recognize his own dog?

Muffin sat down facing us. Waiting for our signal. This time, we waited a few minutes before calling her back to us. Waited until Saggy Pants had sat down on the sandbar to work on his own sand castle.

When Saggy Pants noticed Muffin had run away, he was mad. We heard him cursing as he made his stampy splashing, stamping, stampy splashing, stamping, stampy splashing, stamping way back to our sandbar.

He reached Muffin, yelling and raising his fist to strike her.

“Hey,” yelled Josh, jumping to his feet. “What are you doing with our dog?”

Saggy Pants looked at us. He looked down at Muffin. He looked toward the shore where the other black dog was sniffing around at some seaweed. Saggy Trunks trotted towards the shore. Leaving without a word.

“Good girl, Muffin,” I told her.

She laid down near our sand castle. Her eyes still sparkling with enjoyment from all the fun.

I didn’t have the heart to tell her. That game would likely never happen again.