So it is summer! Finally! This is the time you want to be outside, doing fun activities with your canine sidekick. Today, I will be writing about my own personal life experiences that I share with my dogs in the summer.


Consider your pet’s safety

Safety first: If I am out during the heat of the day, I am aware of my dog’s comfort level AT ALL TIMES. Is the pavement hot for his bare feet? I find shaded areas to rest, and I walk in shaded areas whenever possible.

I typically plan my activities for early or later in the day, when the sun and heat are not as intense. I will always have cool water available for my dog and me. Stay hydrated! Pace yourself. Do not overexert during the hot summer temps. Use your head and stay cool. Like a child, your dog depends on you for its comfort and safety at all times.

Never leave your dog in the car for even a short period of time. Temperatures in a car during summer months rise dramatically and become life threatening in less time than you might imagine.


A typical play day

So, the weekend after the Fourth of July, I wanted to enjoy my weekend and not waste a precious moment. I try to give each dog “Mom” time. On Saturday, my friend and I had planned a play date for our dogs in the early morning, before it became too warm. So I packed up Rue and headed to Forty Fort. My friend has two senior dogs and a two-year old Standard Poodle. The seniors were happy to meet Rue, but certainly did not want to play with him. A little sniffing and they were done. But when Rue became excited and began doing zoomies around the yard, Aura the Standard Poodle merrily joined in.

During this play date, I also discovered that Rue might have a future in Frisbee! Once he figured out how to pick the thing up, he enthusiastically chased it and brought it back to me! I was proud to see how quickly he took to this game.

After a couple of hours, we headed home, where Rue and I took a brief nap in the coolness of the air conditioning, tired but happy! And while at this play date, I managed to capture a wonderful moment via my camera of Rue cooling himself under a bush. I love this picture, and it is calendar worthy!


On the road

Today, I opted to take a ride to Country Junction in Lehighton. You follow the yellow brick road throughout the store (perfect for my canine companion today, Swayze). The store has lots of merchandise to browse through. They are dog friendly, and it is a GREAT place to socialize and exercise your dog while shopping and finding some cool stuff. You meet many nice people, are out of the hot sun, and you come home tired but happy.

Today, my friend Patsy went along for the ride with her soon-to-be new addition, 5-month-old Chihuahua, Apache. At only two and a half pounds, I am sure that Swayze looked like a giant to tiny Apache, who initially became very defensive. Swayze, being the gentle and passive soul that he is, ignored Apache’s body language and barks and went on his merry way. In no time at all, the two were walking side-by-side throughout the store. It was the cutest sight ever. I was told that Apache was totally tuckered upon his return to his foster home. Swayze and I were tired as well, but in a good way.


Kick back and chill

So, at the conclusion of my column tonight, I shall kick back and watch some late-night TV with my contented pooches. This activity, by the way, is 10-year-old Smudge’s favorite. He gets the place of honor in Mom’s lap. The youngsters are still too boisterous to consider this activity, yet. Smudge is my cuddle bunny, and when I sit, he is always up in my lap. This is our quality time together, a loving and bonding experience for us both.


Ice cream run

All of the ice cream establishments are now open. YAY! What about taking your canine companion along to share in the joy of a cold summer treat? Most vendors offer a Fido sundae at an affordable cost, or even free! Dogs love to be included in the family activities, and there is nothing better than quality time spent with family while enjoying a delicious sweet treat!

Keep these visits to a minimum, though. Gotta watch those waistlines, both yours and theirs! Again, like a child, your dog depends on you for his health and quality of life. Keeping your dog at an ideal weight will benefit his health, joints, and longevity


Pass the popcorn, Fido

How about a drive-in movie? We are fortunate enough to have one of these locally. I admittedly have not gone to one in many years because I was not attracted to the movies that were being shown. But years ago, I took my Cairn Terrier, Toby, to a drive-in movie. Toby slept through much of the show, but he was very happy to share this time with Mom and enjoy some tasty tidbits I had brought along. Let’s face it, your dog might not be interested in the movie, but the time spent with you and family – priceless.


Just take a drive

Another summer (spring or fall) activity that I personally love is taking a drive to the town of Jim Thorpe. This place has a charm all its own. People are nice, Jim Thorpe is dog friendly – and who doesn’t stop to meet your dog and ask you all about him/her? Dogs are people magnets, and they are a great tool in meeting new people and often making new friends. Or simply making conversation about your favorite topic, your beloved pets.

Animals have become such an integral part of our society. They are non-threatening and non-judgmental, cute and cuddly. A dog can put a smile on the crabbiest of faces. I witnessed this first hand many times during my nursing home visits. I would be told by staff that a certain resident was very nasty, but she would melt when I entered her room with my therapy dog as she gently took his face into her loving hands. Dogs are magical and can make all of the bad stuff go away.


Let’s go camping

If you are outdoorsy, there is always a camping trip. Protect you and dog against those nasty ticks! On my bucket list is to take my dogs to the beach. I have not yet done this adventure. Most beaches will allow dogs during the off season, but Asbury Park in New Jersey offers a dog beach year round. When time and money allows, I hope to make this desire a reality for me and the dogs.

Remember that swallowing too much salt water can make your dog very ill, or it can be fatal. Dogs are not natural swimmers and must be supervised at all times or wear a life vest. Watch for sharks! I am not a fan of water, but I do love the tranquility of the ocean and hope that my dogs would feel the same.

So get out there and have good times with your dog. Be careful, be safe, and have a GREAT summer. Thank you to my old friend and loyal reader, Dave, who took my picture at the gas station. You made my day!

Dog bless.