Lazy Days and Dogs of Summer

FIRST, A RULE OF THUMB

Out here in the desert heat we’re reaching highs of 110° and it’s not even June yet. There’s a good rule of thumb when thinking about what your dog can withstand, whether it’s in terms of hot or cold. If it’s too hot/cold for you, then it’s too hot/cold for your dog. Before you decide to take your dog for an afternoon walk on a hot sunny day go outside and place the back of your hand on the pavement or sidewalk. Does it burn? Then it’ll burn their paw pads too.

AIR CONDITIONED DOGS

The hotter the temps, the lazier our dogs become – and if I’m being honest, us too. They (and we) would much rather relax inside in the cool temps of our house then step one paw outside in this melting heat. Even our fetch obsessed Tango chooses the a/c over his beloved tennis ball. Thankfully for us and and them we have a pool to keep everyone active cooled off.

Once that pool gate swings open, three substantially large labs try to simultaneously bolt through the dog door. My three stooges. Gotta love this bunch. Their love of water could possibly supersede my own. I remember days of summer past when my mom would call to us because it was time to dry off and go home. “Just five more minutes, Mom!” Ever try to reason with a child that it’s time to get out of the pool? Ever try to reason with a 75 pound water dog who suddenly goes deaf when you call his name to get out of the water? Not to mention they have built in pouty faces that make it impossible not to give in.

WATER IS OUR CONSTANT CRAVING

Before we had an underground pool, we went through many blow up kiddie pools. Before the kiddie pools we had a lake. Before the lake we had an ocean. Water runs through this crew like a raging river. There has not been a time that I haven’t either lived near the water or created a space for it. I suppose if we didn’t have any of those things we’d be running through the sprinklers. Or maybe spraying them and us down with a hose. When my husband waters our hanging fern Whiskey stands directly underneath it to catch the overflow, letting it splash all over his face like a tropical waterfall (insert image of Herbal Essences commercial). Cash, our late water-lover-bloomer at 2 years old, has finally found his sea legs and will be a strong confident swimmer in no time. Just like Tango, once he got a taste of the swim bug I can’t keep him out of the water. Tango, the quintessential water dog, has played fetch in actual torrential downpours. Although that may have more to do with his obsessive passion for fetch.

The kiddie pools never lasted. But they served their purpose to cool down Tango in the hot desert heat whilst he ran off his seemingly endless energy. He’s slowed down since those days and he has no further interest in anything smaller than a body of water her can actually swim in.

BEACH DAY MISTAKES AND LESSONS LEARNED IN COMPLACENCY

After Tango became a strong swimmer he soon became a salty dog. We spent long days at Juno Beach swimming in the Atlantic. In Florida we swam all year around. I became so accustomed to going to the beach in the winter months that it made for a hard adjustment when we moved to Texas.

It also made me complacent at times. In January you can walk along the sand barefoot. In July you will burn your feet on that same sand. One such July morning I loaded up the Trailblazer with every thing I could imagine we would need: towels, water, more water, bowls, ice, snacks, umbrella, tennis ball, backup tennis ball, and sunscreen. What did I forget? Booties. The same doggie booties I had spent weeks training Tango in so that he’d be comfortable walking in them when we encountered rough terrain, too hot pavement, ice cold snow, etc. I had packed them before but had not needed them in the cooler months. It slipped my mind. The 40 yard walk from the boardwalk to the shoreline was easy and uneventful at 10 a.m. But after hours of play at 2 p.m. with the sun high in the sky, it was a different story.

As we headed back to the boardwalk I felt the burning sand moving into my sandals. Crap! I turned around to see Tango hopping from paw to paw and immediately threw him over my shoulder. I am not an “upper body strong” person. Tango is a big dog. I had 40 yards to walk through hot sand carrying our beach bag, ice chest, umbrella, and a 75 pound wet dog hanging around my neck while licking my ear until we reached the safety of shade. It felt like forever, I really thought I might die, it was my own damn fault, and it was the last time I forgot those booties! More importantly, any pain I suffered was more than worth saving Tango’s paws. He didn’t put himself in that situation. I did. And it was my job to protect him. It’s all of our jobs as fur parents to protect our furry babies.

In the weeks to come I expect the temperatures to rise even higher. I see many more pool days in our future, as well as many more lazy air conditioned days inside. We’re going to beat the heat one way or another this summer. So back to that first rule of thumb: protect your babies. As much as we need shelter from the elements, so do they.

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