This week, Sasha went to the groomer for the usual shampoo, trim, and tidy work in addition to a long-overdue blowout. Considering how much hair was left on the groomer’s table and floor, I’m grateful Sasha doesn’t have the super-thick coat commonly seen on Shelties.
The additional time required for a proper blowout meant that Sasha was out of the house much longer than usual, and her absence–and the resulting silence–affected all of us. (If you’ve ever spent time with a Sheltie, you’ll know that silence is rare.) Perhaps most affected, though, was Buddy The Wonder Cat, who frets whenever his dog is away from home. He prowled and yowled his way through the house, refusing to settle until Sasha was once again safe at home.
Whether he’s supervising the Muffin Tin Game, overseeing meal time, or just hanging out in the backyard, I can always count on Buddy The Wonder Cat taking care of his dog.
Check the Old Farmers Almanac and you’ll see we’re in the middle of what’s known as the Dog Days of Summer. The term was coined long before the Almanac was first published in 1792. Some credit Greek mythology while others track the term back to the ancient Romans. Whatever its source, you might find it a struggle to stay cool in the sweltering heat. And just imagine how your dog feels! Here are a few simple strategies that can help you and your dog enjoy your summer adventures:
Walk early in the day. Our summertime strategy is to walk Sasha in the morning before the temps rise. Even then, she tends to move from one spot of shade to another, and she’s not shy about stopping when she’s had enough.
An important reminder: pavement will always be much hotter than the air temperature. Press your palm against the pavements for 10 seconds. If it’s too hot to hold your hand there, it’s too hot for your dog’s paws. Here’s a helpful infographic from the Grand Strand Humane Society:
Carry water with you. You don’t need anything fancy–just something you can easily carry. I keep two squeeze bottles on hand for Sasha that clip on my belt. When she wants a drink, she will plop down on the grass and wait for me to flip the bottle and squeeze water into the drinking tray.
Grab the hose. Drag a small wading pool to a shady spot and add a toy or two to entertain the pups while they cool off. Your pups might also enjoy lawn sprinklers. In our house, Buddy The Wonder Cat (who loves any kind of moving water) introduced Sasha to the fine art of chasing the in-ground sprinklers, which helps them cool off while giving them plenty of exercise. We keep a supply of old towels on the patio and enjoy their silly antics. We usually all end up needing a bath, but it’s worth it to keep them cool and happy!
In AKC time, Sasha is five years old today! We chose July 4th for her “official” birthday in declaration of her independence from the old and in celebration of her new life. She’s now formally recognized by the AKC as Ozark Summer Highlands Sasha.
For those new to the story, here’s a quick recap of how her AKC name came to be:
We chose Ozark for our locale and Highlands for her heritage; we’re actually in the Ozark Highlands, so it’s a double play on that last word. We included Summer because she has a warm, sunny spirit. And I wanted her call name included because she came to us with that, so including Sasha gave us a bridge between her past and present.
As I write this, Sasha is sprawled beneath my desk, taking refuge from the incessant bang of fireworks. In previous years, we resorted to noisy fans and cheerful music to block out the fireworks. This year, other than sticking close to me (which, let’s face it, is basically a habit of hers), Sasha seems unconcerned. Progress!
Years ago, I was traveling with a group and we’d checked into a pet-friendly hotel. I left my spaniel, Alix, in the room while I retrieved the rest of the luggage. One member of the group–one of the few traveling without dogs of her own–wasn’t paying attention and left the door open. My dog decided she didn’t want to stay in a strange place unless I was with her so she slipped out of the open door and set off to find me. By the time I tracked her down, she’d charmed everyone she’d met and the front desk clerk was sharing her lunch. “She looked hungry,” the clerk explained. Fortunately, both staff and guests were amused by my dog’s antics and quick to accept my profuse apologies for an unleashed, unsupervised dog in the hotel.
I learned a lot from that experience, and I’m happy to report that Alix went on to become a wonderful travel companion. Far better, in fact, than I suspect my Sheltie will ever be. If Sasha ever got loose in a strange place, I seriously doubt I could catch her. Beyond our yard and whatever the destination might be, Sasha is always leashed and properly secured.
If you’re traveling this summer by vehicle or planes or even on foot, there are some basic practices that can make the adventure an enjoyable and safe experience for everyone.
The American Kennel Club staff present some great suggestions that can help you plan for your trip. You’ll find excellent information about health, safety, crates, and best practices in the article titled The Complete Guide to Travelling With Your Dog.
Jenna Stregowski, RVT has a thoughtful article titled How to Travel With Your Dog that addresses different types of travel accommodations. The article also includes a handy “what to pack” checklist.
If you’re planning to travel on foot with your dog, The American Hiking Society has great information online at the site Places to Hike With Your Dog.
Although fractured bones have kept me off the trail for the past several months, reading about a hike with a dog is almost as good as the real thing–especially when the writer is as gifted as Jim Warnock. If you’ve never hiked with a canine partner, check out the 12 qualities of a good trail partner. And for more great reading, check out his blog post Just Perfect.
Like many parts of the world, summer in the Ozarks brings out the ticks. That’s why I keep my Sheltie on prescribed tick preventative and check her daily checks after walks. Still, nothing’s 100% effective when it comes to repelling these blood-sucking critters. That’s why, when Sasha showed signs of lethargy and her now-and-then limp became more pronounced, I had her tested for tick-borne disease. Sure enough, she tested positive for Rocky Mountain Spotted Fever. She’s begun a regime of antibiotics, which wreaks havoc with her digestive track. I’m happy to report we seem to be through the worst of it and she’s responding well to treatment.
Ticks, flies, fleas, sand flies, and mosquitoes are all parasites that can transmit what’s known as “Companion Vector Borne Diseases.” Go here to see an interactive map that provides a global perspective of disease occurrence diseases by type of parasite. You can narrow your search by country or state, as well. This site, by the way, also includes general information about ticks and preventative measures.
Here’s a graphic courtesy of The Dogington Post, which highlights places you’ll want to check. (Click on the image to enlarge.)