I’ll just say it: I despise summer. Mainly, it’s because I have Reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder. (The good news is now I get to join the majority of Californians who have some sort of disorder, syndrome or complicated issues). Most people slip into a deep funk when the days begin to shorten and cold and dark descend. But that brilliant sun’s return, now shining an ungodly number of hours a day, hurts my eyes and anything over 73º grosses me out.
And for all of us dog owners, summer is not our friend; it limits our dogs’ safety and enjoyment in the great outdoors.
First, dogs left in cars. For fear of having their car stolen, most people only crack the windows when they leave their pooch and run out for “a few minutes.” But 70º in the sun means 90º inside within 10 minutes. Then you’ll have someone like me who comes to the rescue and shatters the window with her crowbar, which is legal in California. However, waiting with said crowbar for the idiot owner to return probably isn’t.
Next, there are ticks. We have already experienced a pretty bad tick season, but it will hit its zenith May through July, which means the risk of Lyme disease. Fortunately, only 5-10% of dogs exhibit symptoms such as swollen joints, difficulty breathing and in rare cases, kidney failure.
Lastly, the scourge of bristly foxtails (S. verticillata). Its spikelets create a weapon which, once embedded, slip smoothly into our dogs’ nostrils, ears and just about anywhere through the skin. While safely dormant during the winter, our lack of rain here on the West Coast from May through November desiccates foxtails and the tips fall off. Although I only walk my guests on paved surfaces, the little foxtail bastards still manage to launch their nuclear warheads in our path. Casually hitchhiking a ride with whatever poor doggie that happens along, foxtails are the bums, bullies and marauders of nature’s flora. And a pup-foxtail encounter can be expensive. They’re virtually impossible to remove without a visit to your vet and a sucker punch to your wallet.
So enjoy those hikes, vacations and beach visits with your dog and try not to think of the dangers that lurk nearby.