by Wendy Hunter
Ah, summer, what power you have to make us suffer and like it. — Russell Baker, 1970
Well, well, well, my peeps, it’s just about that time again. The dog days of summer are almost upon us, spreading smiles and sunshine, bluebirds and butterflies, and swapping shoes for sandals. Ah, what a dream! But for some of us, these three stagnant months are only our nightmares come to life, haunting our very existence. This can only mean the beginning of the Good (ice cream), the Bad (triple digit degrees), and the Ugly (preposterous electric bills). Luckily, we have solar at ARF, which does seem to help a bit; it’s almost like having your very own Superman bouncing the sun’s rays off his chest. Stand back doggies, I’ve got you covered! Unfortunately, our hero can only do so much, and we have to muddle through this sizzling season using our own devices. Curses. Or…maybe we can join forces against this evil hellion of heat, and beat him at his own game. Bring it on summer, we aren’t afraid of you, the saboteur of the solar system. We have trays of ice cubes, frozen Otter pops, and chilly kiddy pools to soak our fevered heads. Take that! Hold on…what? Tomorrow’s going to be 107? If you need me, I’ll be holding court down at the deep end.
The summertime is the heaven of the year. — James Henry Potts, 1914
There are a multitude of things that people and their pets enjoy doing together, especially when it’s warm outside. People look forward to chocolatey scoops of gelato, while dogs can’t wait for a lip-smacking cup of Puppuccino. Mmm. And while both love getting out for a nice long walk, pet owners have the advantage of protecting their feet from the elements. You can throw on your favorite pair of sneakers for an afternoon jaunt, but little Lucy’s tender toes are just hanging out there. When the temps start skyrocketing, it’s best to walk in the morning or late evening, while the pavement is still cool.
Remember the five-second rule; place the back of your hand on the pavement for five seconds. If it’s too hot for you, it’s too hot for them. If you do head out when it’s a bit warmer, stay on the grass and in the shade, avoiding the sizzling sidewalk. Perhaps Milly the Maltese is a bit of a fashionista, and is crazy for all those dainty dresses you buy for her. If so, she might be a candidate for some doggie shoes with rubber soles, or disposable booties. They offer fantastic protection, and come in a rainbow of colors. It’s possible Milly won’t adapt to wearing something foreign on her tootsies, so don’t be surprised if a pink shoe goes flying over your head on the first go around. Incoming!
Woods are filled with the music of birds, and all nature is laughing under the glorious influence of summer. — Charles Lanman, 1840Out at Animal Rescue of Fresno, the signs of summer are everywhere. The honeysuckle climbs the fences, its sweet scent wafting in the air, drawing in the buzzing bees. The puppies romp and play in their yard, chasing each other in circles, until they collapse in little heaps of fur, lounging for the rest of the day. When the temps start soaring, and the breezes are still, it’s too dangerous for these little guys to be out in the heat. It’s not uncommon for the newbies to stay indoors in their air-conditioned shed, snoozing softly in safety. Summertime also brings the arrival of water-drenched, mud-soaked critters in the big dog yard. These are the dogs who race over to you at breakneck speed, flying across the dirt, and planting their squishy paws all over your shirt. Splashing in the pool or water bucket are their favorite activities, and they feel obligated to share that experience with you. The pools play an important part in keeping ARF dogs from getting overheated, while keeping them active, but cool. If you’ve got a pool and a water dog at home, you know the joy and excitement they feel when hitting that water full force. Yee-ha! You also know the unmistakable smell of wet dog in your living room, when they sneak in through the patio door. Ewww. Just make sure your dog actually knows how to swim, how to get out of the pool by himself, and is never left unattended. Geez, that’s a no-brainer; nobody likes to dog paddle alone.
A life without love is like a year without summer. — Swedish proverbFor black dogs, summer can be most uncomfortable, as their coat literally soaks up the sun. A couple of our black dogs must know this because they can’t get enough pool time. Forest is a very affectionate boy, who wants to play and cover you with kisses. You’ve got to be taken in by those golden eyes and crazy mohawk; what a face! Forest is a three-year-old Terrier mix, and was found by a Good Samaritan who unsuccessfully tried to find his owners. All of us ARF volunteers are completely smitten with Forest, and he adores all the attention. He would love a home with kids and other dogs, but he’d rather not share space with cats. Um, no thanks. Our other black beauty is Nova, another Terrier mix, who might have a bit of Doberman sprinkled in. I freely admit that I am totally in love with this girl; she is the perfect package of sweet and smart. Nova is about three years old, and came from a local kill-shelter. She’s a gentle, quiet soul, who loves to play, go for walks, and hand out kisses. Nova is just a doll, and would do well in a home with other dogs, but no cats please.
For dogs with light or white coats, the summer sun can be very harmful to their sensitive skin. A vet approved sunscreen can be a great help, and should be reapplied throughout the day. This is something to remember if Rico looks like the dog for you. This guy has the happiest grin and most energetic personality on the planet. He’s a hilarious little jumping bean that will bring a smile to your face. We love his polka-dot fur and stubby black tail that wags and wags all day. Happy, happy, joy, joy!
July is an intensely warm month in the States, and by some weather-freak, the fourth, of all days, is the very fiercest. — Henry Howard Paul, 1851
Now I’m sure you know our country’s birthday is coming up again. We love the 4th of July, and just can’t seem to get enough of it. Not at any other time does our patriotic spirit burst forth, and our hearts flutter madly for the red, white, and blue. On this day, flags will fly, people will parade, bunting will billow in the breeze, and hot dogs shall be consumed with great gusto. Pass the mustard please! Unfortunately, the most exciting draw for humans on this holiday, is the most dreaded for pets. Every year, thousands of animals go missing as the fireworks explode and delight children of all ages. And as families cheer and applaud for the rockets red glare, distressed dogs jump fences, tunnel under gates, and even smash through glass windows in a desperate attempt to escape. If you must leave the house, there are many things you can do to help keep your pets calm and stress-free. Here are some excellent suggestions: k9ofmine.com/calm-dog-during-fireworks. Most importantly, please make sure your pet is microchipped! It truly is a lifesaver, and doesn’t cost much. If you want to enjoy Independence Day, go for it. Just make sure you don’t have to spend the next two weeks trying to find your pet. I don’t want you to become one of the many heartsick people I will talk to after the fireworks have burned out. If you chip your pets, you’ll have a great holiday, and so will they. Have fun, and be safe out there!
Personal note: For summer vacation, your family might experience the thrilling rides at DisneyWorld, fly-fish in Yellowstone, gaze over the Grand Canyon, or have a stay-cation in the backyard with s’mores and shooting stars. Whatever you do, hug your kids every morning and give them an extra kiss at night. And while you do, think about all the heartbroken parents in Texas who are not able to do the same. I would like to dedicate this article to them.
Animal Rescue of Fresno
4545 E Dakota Ave.
Fresno, CA 93726
Check out more animal rescue stories in our Pet Perspective section and check back every month for another animal rescue adventure from ARF. Advertise in KRL and 10% of your advertising fees can go to a local animal rescue. We also have a pet Facebook group for KRL and we would love to have you join!