Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Baby, It's Hot Outside

My baby's getting old. Or maybe just out of shape. Or maybe he's cooking inside that black coat.

We're at the Paw Prints Dog Park in Janesville, WI, and it's 85 humid degrees. The gorgeous park unfolds on 17 acres of rolling prairie land with just enough mowed trails to keep people moving while the dogs explore.

My dogs (Joshua, 9, and Jacob, my baby, 7) embrace the experience. They head right out into the prairie, noses down, checking out the pee-mail and animal trails.

Did I mention the heat? 85 degrees. And cloudless. And 100 percent humidity. Which means the sun's brutal.

The three of us, the dogs and I, hike through the prairie's patches of wildflowers, grasses and weeds. I sweat profusely with each step. The dogs (big black poodles, each weighing about 90 pounds) slow down, and pant a lot. I'm drenched. Joshua gives up and heads back to the entrance gate, where he knows a bucket of water awaits.

Jacob and I push on, all the way to the end of the 17 acres, where I find a bench. I sit and survey and discover prairies lack shade trees.

That's when I notice Jacob's odd behavior. He pants frantically and lays down in a stand of tall grass (pictured). Seconds later, he's up again, racing toward another grass patch, circling around and laying down.

Poor guy! Is he trying to get away from the blazing sun? Is he suffering heat stoke?

I hop up and we both walk with a quicker step toward the other end of the park. Every so often, Jacob dives into the tall grass and lays down. Breaks my heart.

Allen meets us half way and Jake walks behind us, with a very uneven, very slow gait.

Wait, I get it! He's walking in our shadows. We are his shade.

He's a clever dog.

He's a survivor.

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