Woof! It's me, Bear the dog. It seems humans have been growling a lot lately about how hot it is. Record-breaking weather. Triple-digit temperatures. No air conditioning because of major power outages. Sweltering heat and high humidity.
You probably didn't think we dogs picked up on stuff like this. With our exceptional hearing, our dog-ears hear everything! So, I'd like to offer up a little dog food for thought to help put this summer heat in dog perspective. Oh, and woof! I'll also share with you some of my tips for staying cool in the Dog Days of Summer.
Throw Me a Bone (Or, Give Me a Break in Dog Speak)
When it's sizzling hot, muggy, and humid outside, what do you wear? Maybe you don a lightweight outfit made out of a cool, breathable fabric like cotton, seersucker polyester (whatever that is), or linen. Perhaps you pull on a bathing suit. Or, maybe you put on a light colored tank-top and shorts. What do we canine companions wear in this oppressive heat (grrrr, or any day for that matter!)? A FUR coat! And for me, about TWO layers of fur!! (Thanks to my partial Newfoundland heritage, I have a thick double-coat.) And bark! Did I mention my fur is BLACK?! Try running around a whole day in 85 degree weather wearing a black, double-layered, full-bodied fur coat and see how long it takes before you start to pant. Speaking of panting...
For me, panting is how I cool off in hot weather. Since I can't sweat or take off my fur coat (see above), sticking my tongue out and panting allows me to circulate air through my body to help cool me down. Next time you humans complain about being too hot and how you need to cool yourself off, try doing what we doggies do: stick your tongue way out of your mouth and try panting for several minutes. Go ahead...try it. It starts to get uncomfortable after awhile, doesn't it? Do you feel a little silly with your tongue dangling out of your mouth? Now imagine a tongue twice as long as yours!
Finally, let's talk paws, er uh, feet. Bark! We have FOUR of them, how many do YOU have?? Sometimes this comes in handy, but during the hot season, it can be doubly problematic. For example, did you walk over five miles yesterday in your bare feet on scorching hot rocks and black tarmac that had been baking in the sun all day? And I bet you probably wear your flip-flops to the beach to avoid stepping on blistering hot sand. I'm a lucky dog 'cause my parents do a good job of steering me towards shady sidewalks and cool dirt to walk on which helps my dogs from barking too much (they've tried the doggie-bootie thing on my paws, but I kept losing them!). They also check my paws often to make sure they're in good working order with no cuts, blisters, or other owies.
Just sayin', from my doggie perspective, it could be a lot worse for you humans during all this sweltering summer heat.
Here are my tail-wagging tips for a dog-gone good summer:
1. Water, water, water! And lots of it! For drinking, of course, but also the FUN kind of water you wade and splash into. My people always have water for me wherever we go (even to the park and on hikes), and they have a fun little travel doggie drinking bowl just for me (but grrrr, seriously, what's wrong with me sharing YOUR water glass with you?!) The lake, a pond, the river, a pool, the bay! These all help to cool me off. Then when I get out of the water, I like to help my humans cool off by shaking some of the water off on them. Ruff! Ruff! For some reason, which my canine brain doesn't get, they usually react to this with a growl and snarl of their own.
2. Cool spots in the shade. You don't have to be picky. Any shady spot will do. Especially ones that have refreshingly cool dirt, or even moist, damp sand. That can really help cool off pups and people alike. But for me, my favorite cool spot in the shade? One that has fresh mushy, squishy mud, woof! It feels so chill and refreshing when it sticks all over my belly and coats all my fur on my underside. Even in the biggest park with all that fancy green grass, I can always manage to find the one, small spot of mud to lay down in. Which makes one bark the question, "Why isn't there more mud at the park?" Huh.
See, and you wondered how beneficial advice would be coming from a dog! I hope this helps both you and your canine companion alike and makes your Dog Days of Summer more "Bear"-able. Arff! Arff!