It’s only March but here in Texas we’re already into the 70s. By July, temperatures will reach triple digits. I swear my GSD, the Magical-Dawg (above), must have Labrador in him because he loves water so much. He’s already begun to stop by the outside faucets and look with doggy lust at the unattached hose coiled on the ground. He loves water so much, you’d think bathing would be a breeze. But it’s nearly impossible to bathe him because his fetch-the-water game prevents a good rinse cycle. And he’s too big to stuff in the washing machine.
We don’t have a swimming pool. According to friends, they’re a money-sink but I gotta tell you, I’d take chlorinated water over stinky-parasite-infected tank. “Tank” is Texan for man-made mud puddle for livestock. Magic thinks it’s his personal playground, perfect for floating balls. Last year he contracted powerful projectile diarrhea from imbibing, so I’m not a fan–and use the hose and wading pool innovation to keep him away from temptation.
Dogs don’t think ahead, they live in the moment. I know spring has barely sprung, but writers live 6-12 months in the future. I’ll be interviewed this Friday by Family Circle magazine for a feature on aging dogs and aging cats scheduled for their August issue, yee-haw! And I just turned in two articles for Catnip and Your Dog magazines (published by Tufts University) on summer pet concerns, including pool safety. While writing for the Internet can mean more immediate publication, writers targeting print should be pitching Fall topics by now.
Most cats don’t care for water but a few like Turkish Vans and Bengals may jump right in. Pets are natural dog-paddlers (even cats!) but easily drown if they can’t climb out, get caught in a rush of water, or get too tired to float. Puppies, kittens and small dogs are at highest risk for drowning. Their inexperience, curiosity and fearlessness prompt them to explore. Certain dog breeds with very heavy coats become weighted down when wet, while Bulldogs and similar pooches simply aren’t built for effective swimming. The steep sides of backyard pools, hot tubs, kiddie wading pools or even toilets may prove particularly dangerous, depending on the size and age of the pet.
Most backyard pools have steps to get out along with a shallow end. Teach your pet how to find these easy exits. For instance, place a large visual marker such as a planter near the shallow end or steps. Then when King does his doggy dive, or Sheba leaps into the wet, lure the pet to paddle toward the planter and demonstrate how to climb steps. Praise him when he finds the way out. Never leave pets unsupervised around the pool.
Are your dogs (or cats) water-babies? Do they chase the hose like Magic, or shun the tub like my Seren-kitty? I would LOVE to see how Magic reacts to a real pond or even the seashore. I’ve heard of some dogs who try to “herd” the waves. How do your dogs react? I must admit, I admire pets’ ability to live in the moment. I’m stuck in the future, channeling Thanksgiving and snowstorms.
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