Dog Days of Summer

We all know about the intense heat the summer brings us. Those days where you don’t want to leave your air conditioning even to make a dash for the car, which is probably hotter. Dog days is an odd term for summer’s heat just as Indian summer comes in the fall or dogwood winters descend on us often in February.

If you’d like to read more about the dog days of summer, please read my friend’s blog,  CalliopesWritingTablet    She will take you on an interesting voyage through history and how dog days came to be named.

This year as the dog days hit, my air conditioner quit! My repair guy couldn’t get here for a few days, making life pretty miserable. Fortunately, it was only a small part  that needed replacement and it only cost a few hundred dollars! As though a few hundred dollars wasn’t a major dent in my budget, sending me into this month way behind on bills. 😦 But such is life and I’m thankful I didn’t have a few thousand to pay for a new unit.

Normally my little eight-pound dog loves the warm weather. I’ll let her out, and she will sniff everything  including flowers that she can reach such as dandelions and others that grow close to the ground. The day she tried sniffing a dandelion that had gone to seed was quite funny. That must have really tickled.  She’s a sniffer. She raises her head and sniffs the air, she sniffs blades of grass, and everything else out there.

We read things that come into our house and she sniffs things that come into her yard. She likes knowing what is going on in her neighborhood and what creatures have been in her backyard.  Lately that has been a tiny little opossum. I know she smells it, and sniffs to discover where it has been and probably how long ago. But summer also means more people are outside, and being I live in the “city”, there’s more foot traffic. She barks to warn everyone to stay away. And I assume to warn me that there is real danger on my sidewalk. Oh, seriously? It doesn’t seem to matter how much I tell her not to bark, she does. And small dogs are yappy! I doubt her little bark scares anyone! But on these sweltering hot days, she goes out, and does what she must before running back inside. And there are times I must convince her to stay out there long enough to handle her needs.

Pets are such a part of our lives, and if I didn’t have her, I’d be lonely. Sometimes I don’t speak to anyone other than her. A friend might call and ask me if she has awakened me. No, I just haven’t actually talked since I’ve been awake. Most people don’t understand that. But I’ve also come to enjoy the quiet of living alone, and my little girl and I do just fine.

When my husband died, I went to the local city pound aka animal shelter and adopted a grown boxer. All I wanted was a barking doorbell and something that at least seemed like protection for me. She’d been badly abused. Then she was abandoned and left chained in a backyard without food or water. She was in terrible shape shape when they found her, under 20 pounds. She was so skinny I was afraid to pet her for fear of hurting her, so I’d pet her floppy cheeks. She was up to 25 pounds when I was able to bring her home. These dogs will go from 50-to 80 pounds. Slated to be put to sleep because she was so ill, the folks who worked there were thrilled I was taking her because they all saw her wonderful personality that shined through her malnourished exterior.

She was expensive to  save, but I did it! She had every worm and parasite known to dogs. You don’t want to know what I went through so that she did not infect her own backyard for those first 3 weeks. She was not the first pet I adopted from a pound or the first pet that had been mistreated.

I grew up with a dog and then my sister bought a dog. But when I got married, I adopted a dog from the pound. So cute! She didn’t live long and I will always remember her. Then we were given a beagle. With a small child in the house, I was going nuts. It was put the dog out and bring my daughter inside then I’d flip and my daughter would go out and the dog would come in. The beagle was playful. With a child who didn’t weigh very much yet walked early, the beagle would knock her down. I could see my toddler’s frustration.

One day, a gal at the bank admired the young beagle as I came through the drive-thru. Her dad had a bunch of beagles he kept as hunting dogs, but they were also family pets that were well loved. I knew her family. She said she wanted to take my beagle home with her because it was cute! Really? Okay! She called home and I gave her my beagle on the spot! I felt bad and I didn’t because I know it would be loved. That family owned a few hundred acres and the dog would be safe. Then a neighbor gave me her poodle. He was old and she was going blind. It was a bad situation and she felt as though she couldn’t handle the dog and everything else in her life. Her children (teens) were free to visit the dog whenever they wanted and they came often! We moved far away and one day, the dog went out and never came home. We lived in the middle of corn fields. I searched and searched. My husband checked the roads. We never found him. He was slowing down in his old age, about 24 YO, and several people including the vet said that dogs will often go off to die.

One day my youngest (at the time she was about 13 with a boyfriend) started saying she wanted a baby! HUH?!? (She attended a school where several young girls were pregnant and her boyfriend’s married sister was pregnant.) A friend said get her a dog, quick! So we did. My neighbor found the perfect dog at the pound. I had to take off from work a few minutes early to meet this dog and adopt him. By the time, I got there he was gone! He’d been adopted. The next day he was back and this time with a big red note attached to the cage. Biter! He was slated to be put down the next morning. My neighbor talked to the woman who cleaned the cages, and in general, cared for the animals. She said whoever adopted him the day before had several small children. He growled at the children and then snapped at the youngest. She swore there was nothing wrong with the dog. I take off from work early again and go down. Here’s this beautiful Cocker Spaniel who was as friendly as they come. I was told he hates children. I didn’t have small children! My youngest was 13! They let me adopt him.  He was a wonderful dog!

Dogs do growl and he had the most horrible, vicious growl on him! I always figured that dogs can’t talk . If they don’t like something, they growl! It’s their way of saying no! Ignore it and you will get bit! If he got out the door and could get into a car, you had to take him for a ride. Once around the court was enough. But try to get him out of that car without giving him a ride, and he would growl. It was so funny! He’d roll his lips and show off his teeth with a deep throaty sound. “Just a loop around the court!” They would and then open the door. He’d hop out and come back into the house all happy with his tail swinging  because he’d had a car ride.

Those dogs are only supposed to live until they are about 14. He was over 20 when he died. Half blind with cataracts and totally deaf, his congestive heart failure finally caught up with him. He wanted to go outside and I took him out. He could barely walk, so I carried him. I sat with him as my hubby dug the dog’s grave. We found out later that there are laws preventing you from burying pets in the backyard. I promise this hole was almost to China. Hubby never once shed a tear but that hole just kept getting deeper and deeper.

That dog had been part of our lives forever. When my daughter brought home her child from the hospital, I  said give that baby to the dog. She looked at me weird  and spread the blanket on the floor, put the baby in the middle of it, and then called her dog.  The old boy walked over, sniffed at the new baby, licked her little face as if to taste, and walked off.  After that, we made certain that she didn’t pull his hair, etc. She ‘d toddle over to him and often pet him. He was fine with that, but anything beyond that was off limits! Yet he slept under her crib constantly, as if keeping vigil over an innocent child.

He came with medical records so we never changed his name or anything, but he wasn’t in our house for long when we figured things out. If a male raised his hand, even if in fun, that dog wanted to eat him! He was very protective of the females in the house.  We also knew he had some serious injuries before we got him. Whoever owned him must have abused his wife and the dog. One daughter actually gave up a boyfriend who wanted to play a little too hard around the dog. That dog got to the point he didn’t want that guy in the house! I told my daughter that the dog was telling her something.

I think I cried for three months when we lost that old dog. He’d been with us for over 14 years. And he wasn’t young when we got him. He was such a part of our lives. I wrote a story about him after he died. When my computer crashed, I lost that story, but I know it. I think one day I’ll rewrite it and have it published. It’s not a story for children

My little dog was bought as a pet for my barking doorbell, the Boxer.  Oh, she mourned that Boxer’s death as much as I did. My little one was a mistake. A local woman works close with a rescue group. A friend of hers died and the children asked if she would take her friend’s old male dog. She said yes, so she had a 22 YO Schnauzer move in. Shortly after that she obtained a tiny poodle via the local rescue who needed a place to hold her until she could be put up for adoption.  They set up for each pet to be spayed or neutered. But it seems that old Schnauzer took a liking to a pretty little poodle and when the woman went to take the poodle for spaying she was pregnant! What?

The poodle had that litter and a friend got one of the puppies! Oh, so cute! But before the woman could get the poodle spayed, darn, if that old dog didn’t do it again! So much for thinking that old dogs couldn’t. My dog came from that second litter. She was born on Christmas Eve, so I named her Sugarplum.

I can’t imagine not having animals in my life.  There’s also an old, fat cat name Hook around here. My housemate upstairs has three black cats. (That’s a long story!) Guess who is allergic to cats? Guess who the cats love to visit while she’s sleeping? Guess who often wakes ups up gasping for breath because one of those cats has joined her as she has slept? Are they beautiful? Of course. Do they get into trouble? OMG! YES!!! They have knocked things off my walls, cleared my mantels, and in general made a huge mess of things! And they are like petting pure silk! One in particular loves me, but she doesn’t understand that that she can’t get in my face. Old Hook can’t physically make it to my bed and do such stuff. So he’s easier for me to handle. I can pet him and wash my hands.

But pets have always been part of my life. It doesn’t matter if they swim in water or are covered with feathers or fur. They know they will be loved and cared for the same as my two-legged family. For non-pet people, that might be hard to understand, but for those with pets, they get it. So many times I told my children to sit or stay, and I found myself laughing inside, for it sounded as though I was talking to a dog. They all respond to simple commands.

My husband had been raised to believe that pets were dirty and vicious. He learned to accept the ones I brought home. But when a neighbors two Doberman’s got loose and came running across the yards to me, my husband almost freaked because I had our toddler granddaughter in my arms. He instantly took the child from me. I grabbed at the dogs’ collars as they licked my face. Dobie’s have big tongues! They weren’t happy when I walked them home and made them go through their gate into their own fenced yard. I ruined their fun! But a four-foot fence is never going to retain a big dog. To them that fence was a reminder to stay home.

Not saying I’ve never seen a mean dog, but they are rare. I believe that family pets know to protect their family and also most know that I will never hurt them. Don’t let a stranger near those Dobies! They will go into protective mode! I watched them jump that fence when a friend had her children in her backyard. A male friend who was unknown to those Dobies came around the house and into that section of yard while the children were out there. It was a tense few minutes. Those Dobies were going to protect her children! Their reaction was instinctive. They weren’t vicious, they were protecting the children!

I probably could write a book filled with stories of the animals that I have known and loved. (Oops, maybe I just did with this long post.) It’s difficult in today’s hectic time to have animals in our lives, and I understand that, but I also think so many young families are missing out on a wonderful element when there is no pet in the household.

Do/Did you have a special animal in your life?





15 thoughts on “Dog Days of Summer

  1. We have a dog and a grand-dog. The grand-dog (my daughter’s Westie) moved in with us two months ago. Personality-wise, he’s like a different creature than our super-tame Schnauzer, but I’m growing attached to his wild ways, and I’m sure I’ll miss him when it’s time for him to leave.

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  2. I’ve had so many special pets in my lifetime. Growing up, I was a lonely little girl. I had a cat named Euripides (is there any question *why* I was lonely now?) who would follow me to school and sit outside my classroom window until it was time to go home. He’d sit on the edge of the bathtub, his tail just touching the water whenever I took a bath. I can’t tell you how many times I cried into his fur. As an adult, I had a cat named Guinevere who treated my infant daughter like her own kitten. She’d sleep under the crib and wake me when the baby cried, would rub her face against the baby’s and would sit with her at the bus stop when she started school. Then there was Kismet, my bionic black Lab who’d torn her Achilles tendon and had a bionic replacement. I used to take her to physical therapy three times a week! Nowadays, I share joint custody with Zoe the Wonder Pup, a cocker spaniel my daughter and I adopted.
    Pets are truly part of the family. They bring joy and unconditional love.

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  3. I never had a pet as a child, so I missed out on all that love! My son had pets coming up, so he gave us a Chocolate Lab when he married. He said it was for me to have someone to take care of. lol Hubby and I both fell in love with that beautiful dog named Prissy. She was the sweetest and made our lives fuller. She had a dozen pups, one died, and we had to bring her inside since it had turned cold. Labs are big, really big. 🙂 We bought an extra large child’s pool and put in our den. Prissy had plenty of room to lie down and take care of her babies. She was wonderful with children. I miss our Prissy.

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    • Never thought of using a child’s wading pool. Brilliant! That hard plastic makes it easy to wipe clean, and isn’t going to get torn or allow for any leakage. (Yes, they are big dogs and those tails are weapons when they get to wagging them. I’ve never seen a mean Lab. They all seem to come with that wonderful sweet and sometimes goofy way about them, but they are smart animals. But they they can also be highly protective of the children in their lives.) But I can imagine life that many growing puppies once they learn to get out. Oh my!

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  4. We definitely had our hands full until people started coming by and fell in love with the pups. We didn’t even have one to keep. She never once growled at me if I had to pick up one of the pups. Felt sorry for Prissy with no babies around. My brother, John and his family, took one of her pups. That sweetie was treated like a queen! They loved her so much. They had two boys and they sure gave her lots of loving too. I hope everyone else took good care of their pups too. Speaking of lab’s tails being a weapon…at that time we had a coffee table. When Prissy got happy or excited, she’d slam her tail against the table so hard, she’d bring blood! Poor baby. Makes me, almost, want another sweet dog.

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  5. Sugar Plum, what a perfect name! Animals fill our lives with such joy. I hold of all mine, with us and no longer here, in my heart. So much love!


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