Golden Retrievers Speak: Extreme Heat!

Jeter:   Last week was not a fun week for Alanis & myself.    The air in our home wasn’t working, leading to a very uncomfortable environment for us doggies!  It became so warm inside the house that we barely even wanted to play with each other!

Alanis:  Yes, you know the house is uncomfortable when we have no interest in playing.  We tried, and had our moments, but for the most part, we rested a lot.

Jeter:  It was a situation where it was nicer outside than it was inside!   Daddy skipped one day of walking us, but took us for a quick walk during the second day of the mini heat wave.  It actually felt good to get outside of this sauna.

Alanis:   Daddy said they are in the process of replacing the air conditioning system!  That will be nice!

Jeter:  Correct – the lazy man finally was able to find someone to come out to look at the unit.   I will not have peace of mind until everything new is in place, though.    We are almost in June, so another heat wave can come at any time!

Alanis:  Thankfully, we have our long coats……

Jeter:   Isn’t that funny?  People sometimes feel bad for us because of our long coats.  Our coats actually protect us from the heat.    Our coats actually work as insulators, just like inside of a house.   If you don’t have heat in the house on a cold day, the insulation will prevent the house from becoming too unbearable.  The same is true for our coats!   If we are outside on a 5-degree day, certainly we can get cold – however, our coats keep us comfortable.  It is the way nature works – we weren’t originally built with heaters and air conditioners in mind.   We were originally built to stay comfortable regardless of the weather.

Alanis:  Correct!  We should never be shaved during the summer.   That could lead to sunburn and actually make us less comfortable.    Just make sure we have water, and our bodies will take care of the rest.   We also know where the coolest and warmest areas of the house are.  We’ll seek them out and we will find them.  That is just a part of who we are.

Jeter:  This definitely does not mean our bodies can withstand any extreme condition you throw at us.  We can, and WILL, overheat.   If we are left in a hot car, we will overheat, for example.    We pant to stay cool – if the rate of our panting can’t keep up with the temperatures our bodies are feeling, we will overheat.

Alanis:   Is there anything a human can do to help us?  Would throwing us in a pool of ice water help?

Jeter:   We should throw Daddy in a pool of ice water just for the comedy of it all.  It isn’t necessary for us, however.   We sweat through our paws, believe it or not.  If you notice we are overheating, find a way to cool off our paws.  That will help us regulate our body temperature again.

Alanis:   Can we still go for walks on hot days?

Jeter:  Yes!  But we have to rely on our humans to make the correct decision on hot days.  Try not to take us in the middle of a hot day, because – duh – that is when it is hottest.  If you don’t like walking at night, you can take us before the sun goes down.    It isn’t just about the heat hitting our bodies, it is also about walking on hot asphalt if you must walk on some road surfaces.    For the humans:  Put your hand on the asphalt.  If you can’t keep your hand there for long because it is too hot, it is also likely too hot for our paws.

Alanis:   We will still be enthusiastic, because we are dogs!  That is why Daddy has to make the call that is in our best interests!

Jeter:    We all love a good, long walk – but health should always come first.

Alanis:  Correct!  If Daddy passes out, who cares?  We have great noses and will find our way back home.  If we pass out, however, that can be a disaster.  Be careful with us is all we ask.

Jeter:   That was mean, but oh so true – we would find our way back to Mommy.

Alanis:   Thankfully, the temperatures have gone down again and we are once again comfortable and playful.

Jeter:   Daddy went out to buy a couple of fans, and you are afraid of the one in the bedroom!

Alanis:  Yeah, yeah – like you are Mr. Brave all of a sudden!  Pulllleeeeeaaaaasssseeee!

Me:  The dogs summed it all up perfectly.  There isn’t a need to shave a long-haired dog in the summer.  Their hair helps keep them comfortable.    If you run into a situation like the one we had, make sure they have plenty of water.   They may search out comfortable places to lay down.   After we got the fans, Jeter found a perfect spot that was both underneath our ceiling fans AND within range of one of the tower fans we purchased.  As I said, they figure it out.   If you don’t have carpeting, they will also likely lay down more on the colder surfaces of your floor rather than jump on a couch or bed (if you allow for that!)

If you see signs of overheating, cool off their paws immediately.     Call the vet and take them in.   Overheating is just as dangerous for them as it is for us – do not take it for granted that they have “recovered” after you cool them down.   Better be safe than sorry.

The summer months can be a lot of fun for you and your dog – nicer days to play outside, etc.  If you monitor their activity and watch for lethargy, you will be able to enjoy the months ahead without much of a worry.

Golden Retrievers Speak: A Walk Through the Neighborhood

Jeter:   One of my favorite daily activities is my long walk through the neighborhood.  Daddy takes us down a bunch of different streets so that we can get different sights and smells.  Yes, as dogs, we LOVE that!   We’ll take any walk, but if you can occasionally get us down a street we rarely frequent, it makes it even that much better.

Alanis:  I have grown to like walks.  I didn’t like them at first.  My first family even told Daddy that I was a very stubborn walker who didn’t want to walk more than a block before stopping.     Through training and recognizing how much fun these adventures can be, I have grown to enjoy them more.  I no longer resist, and I am less insistent on going down the streets that I instinctively know take me closer to home….

Jeter:  That was a Josh trait.  When Josh was done walking, he just knew what roads would get him back faster, and would start pulling Daddy towards them.  He had a limit in his head, and when he was done, he let you know.

Alanis:  We met a new yellow lab recently.  She lives right next door to the older yellow lab that used to run along the fence when we would come into view.  He doesn’t do that any more (though maybe he will when it gets warmer again?), but he does lay next to the front door and bark at us when we walk by.  The new lab acts just like the older one did was he was younger – runs along the fence, barking at us when we walk by.      We know exactly what house it is, because we get all excited walking by the house even when she is not outside.

Jeter:    It is always fun to see new dogs in the neighborhood, and there are a lot of them.  There is another new dog right down the street – we haven’t really met him or her yet, but she lives in the same house as another yellow lab once did years ago.

Alanis:  How about the young kids we walk by every day?

Jeter:    Daddy gets uncomfortable with them, because he doesn’t know their intentions!   Rarely do kids ask to pet us nowadays, but when they do, he is very quick to point out that both of us WILL jump when we get excited.  He won’t really let us go by kids he thinks we will knock over!

Alanis:  How about that kid in the wagon the other day?   YOU MADE HIM CRY!

Jeter:  LOL…yeah, as the father was petting you, I went over to the wagon and licked the toddler.   He was crying within five seconds.  I was only trying to be friendly! 🙁

Alanis:  He may have just been crying at the sight of Daddy.

Jeter:   I think that definitely contributed.

Alanis:   I hear I am a bit like Josh in that I want to greet everyone when we walk?

Jeter:   Yes.  The difference is that people actually are taken aback a bit by you because as you go towards them, you bark!   Josh never did that.  Plus, you are not as insistent as Josh was.  He wouldn’t let Daddy (or the people walking!) take no for an answer.  You are more willing to just keep on walking.

Alanis:  Like with the woman reading the meters a few weeks ago?

Jeter:  She WANTED to pet us, but we jumped all over her.  We are so sorry.   We didn’t mean to!  We just get so excited, especially since we have so much adrenaline running through us because of the walk!

Alanis:   Daddy hates loose dogs.

Jeter:   Yeah, if you want to make Daddy mad, just leave your dog unleashed in your front yard.    I hope he realizes that he isn’t always talking under his breath when he begins to curse….

Alanis:    Most of the dogs don’t come at us, but when they do…..

Jeter:  It isn’t pretty…..

Me:   The dogs are correct – I hate it with a PASSION when I see an unleashed dog in someone’s front yard.  Our two dogs are very sweet, but are also BONDED and will defend each other if they sense even a hint of danger.  And, to a dog, a dog coming straight at them from a yard is certainly a hint of danger.   We have had very few instances, and I do try to turn quickly before the other dog can recognize we are coming.

As for children and all of that, I let my dogs greet kids who I think are old enough to withstand a potential jump.   My dogs do not run and jump…they get close to you, and start to jump when you begin to pet them.   If the kid is too small, they can easily get knocked over.  I remember a year ago or so, there was a group of 20-somethings hanging out by a car.  One of the young women in the group shouted at me, asking if she could pet them.   Of course, I let her – but the moment she got them excited, they jumped all over her.   I assume she had to probably change her “night out on the town!” clothes after that.

As always, just keep your dog safe and keep the neighborhood safe.  You know your dog better than anyone, but recognize there are things kids do that your dog just might not like.   Our dogs have not been exposed to many young children, so I am naturally hesitant to let my dogs greet them.   If my dogs are their first experience with a dog, it could scar them for life if they get knocked down!   I wouldn’t want that.

Goldens are generally great with kids, though.  My dogs are no exception to that rule generally.    A bit of caution will keep everyone safe…..