Beat the heat, don’t hide from it

Published 9:05 pm Friday, June 17, 2011

I don’t know if you’ve been outside recently, but it has been a little warm out there.

Even if you’ve secluded yourself in the cool comfort of air conditioning, it’s hard not to notice the heat when it’s dragging on everyone.

Even my dog has been affected.

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Let me explain.

When we chose Miyagi, we did so for many reasons. He was cute, of course, and he connected with us immediately. But what first drew us to him was the fact that he was the only one at the SPCA that wasn’t hopping around like crazy, barking at everything in sight.

Of course, his calm demeanor likely had more to do with him having a slight cold when we adopted him than we knew.

Maybe it was naïve to think that we could get a calm puppy, but whatever the reason, I believe we picked the right one, even though we didn’t quite understand what we were getting into.

Don’t get me wrong. He is a wonderful dog. He’s well behaved, and he’s been a good excuse to start exercising.

But we weren’t prepared for the energy that Miyagi would contain. I’ve seen him play with another dog for hours and hours, until they both lay in a literal dog pile of panting fur.

I’ve seen him play fetch for three hours, take a short break to get some water and be ready to play fetch for three more hours.

There seemed like there could be no end to his boundless peppiness. But last week, when temperatures reached above 90 degrees, we learned there might be a light at the end of the tunnel.

We took him out for his usual lengthy fetch session. He started out with his usual spunkiness, but that only lasted for about 15 minutes. Then Miyagi bolted to retrieve the ball and, equally as fast, rushed to the back door of the house. Once there, he sat and refused to return the ball to me. And just like that, we discovered Miyagi’s kryptonite — high heat.

But Miyagi isn’t the only one harmed by heat. We all — dogs and humans alike — have our heat-tolerance limits.

But that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t go outside. While it may be tempting to hunker down in whatever air conditioning we can find, the draw of summertime — the ballgames, pools and grills — are all outdoor activities and are too much fun not to enjoy. And usually a bit of sweat is worth the fun, as long as you’re prepared for it.

Steps like drinking extra water and wearing a hat are easy ways to stay safe in the sun. For dogs, which might not always be as quick as Miyagi was to indicate that they are overheating, making sure they have enough water and some shade of their own is key.

Even though temperatures have recently fallen to more normal 80-degree highs, it’s always important to remember to be careful in summer heat, whether you’re furry or not.