It’s August in Waco, which is typically when our heat and the lack of rainfall is at its worst. Most of us have heard the term Dog Days of Summer. A quick Google search brings up the Farmer’s Almanac explanation, which in a nutshell says that the 20 days before and 20 days after the alignment of the sun with the star Sirius, the so-called “Dog Star,” are the Dog Days of Summer.
So July 3 to Aug. 11 are technically the Dog Days of Summer, but we know the entire month of August is brutally hot. It’s a horrible time to be a dog exposed to the outdoor elements.
That’s in essence the genesis of the theme for our magazine for this month as we look at the importance of keeping our beloved pets cool during the summertime heat. We also invite readers to snap fun pics of their dogs keeping cool in a contest this month (see the info on page 19).
My wife and kids have never had a dog, despite much pleading from our daughter, Elaine. My wife rightly knew that we’d end up being the primary caregivers, and frankly, a puppy/dog is like having another child and we’d already hit our quota with two humans.
As a child I did have a pet dog, the poorly named LadyDog, a collie mix that I treated as my personal horse (in my defense, I was really young and small at the time). But LadyDog had a tendency to sneak out of our yard, and sadly ended up eating poison a neighbor had set out and she died.
The pet loss that hit me hardest growing up was after we moved from our rent house in Fayetteville, Texas, to my grandfather’s home and farm just outside of town. After Grandpa Sury passed, we inherited his dog, Pinto, who was a typical mutt, but a good dog. Ol’ Pinto always loved to race right alongside the vehicles as they came uphill on the gravel road to the house.
But Pinto got older, had a seizure once, and definitely slowed down. His penchant for running alongside the cars never waned, however. One morning, Mom and I were driving up the hill and Pinto bolted alongside like always. Then suddenly, we had two quick bumps on the left side of the van. We quickly stopped in horror.
I clambered out to find Pinto on his side, dying. He went quickly as I looked on, helpless. Mom stood beside the van, heartbroken. I went inside the house and sobbed. I kept thinking, “Why am I reacting like this? I didn’t even cry this hard when Grandpa Sury died.”
I suppose it was the suddenness and the way Pinto went that affected me so.
Dad arrived, took Pinto out to the pasture and buried him. I’m sure he cried as well. Pinto was a connection to his dad, and now he was gone.
I didn’t intend to get so depressing in this column, but pets give us much joy and losing them hurts. We need to give them the care they deserve, especially when weather makes it tough on them.