“In the late summer afternoon, when the tea cups were cleared, and the family went inside…The dogs who are no longer under human control, find delight in the company of each other.”
– Joe Dunnea, Irish writer
It was a summer afternoon, and also a very hot August one. The dogs in our tale are Abby and Mickey (our sons’ dog). In and out the dog door they go! Might be after a squirrel, for a drink or just to do what dogs do outdoors. One is never without the other. Sounds perfect, but in the heat of the day when their people are indoors or not home, potential danger awaits in the form of the swimming pool.
When the heat is really on, the cool water of our backyard pools beckons. Last summer we were awakened to a raccoon family taking a late night dip. In the foothills you never know what may pay you an unexpected visit. For now, my concern is for our family dogs.
Most dogs are natural swimmers. Abby is rather selective and prefers a lake in the Sierras over a pool. Sidekick Mickey doesn’t like water at all. Maybe it’s his short Corgi legs, but he doesn’t even like to drink the stuff. Like it or not, all dogs need to be able to make it to the pool’s steps and climb out. Here are a few ideas.*
Place a visual marker (exit spot) at pool-edge. A flower pot with a flag works. Repeat the following over, over and over again. Reward after each.
1. At marker, sit and enjoy some good canine-human bonding time. Be brave, dip your own paws.
2. Gently place pooch into the top step. If he climbs out, say “steps” as he does. Repeat.
3. Calmly enter the water supporting your dog. My husband glided Abby out a few feet. I remained at the steps (in the water) and called, “Abby,” as Doug pushed her my direction. Gradually we increased the distance.
4. Don’t let your dog get panicked, and be ready to direct and assist only to the steps. Abby wanted to swim to us. Don’t allow this. You may not always be present.
5. In your dog’s mind, the only exit should be the steps.
6. Try different take off points, with the steps always the destination.
7. Say “Good dog!” and have fun!
*Based mostly on personal experience and not that of a professional.
The weather is hot, with no immediate relief. Daytimes over 100 degrees, with nights around 75 expected with possible thunderstorms. Sorry…
At least, if you and “your best friend” are poolside, it should be a cool and safe place.
Sue Kilpatrick is a
Crescenta Valley resident and
Official Skywarn Spotter for the
National Weather Service. Reach her at email@example.com.