The Dog Days of Summer

Apparently, this time of year was referred to as the dog days of summer by the ancient Greeks because they associated the hottest days of summer with the star Sirius, or “Dog Star”, and its rise just before the sun. I can believe that. It most certainly wasn’t because creatures covered in fur who have just a few sweat glands on our paws and cool off via panting are at all comfortable at this time of year. You’ve seen it. Dog on a hot day with its tongue on the floor. It may look like a big smile but, believe me, I’m not smiling.

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Yes. I know. It’s long.

 

Holy hot, what is going on this summer? It’s been hot almost every day since the beginning of July with most days out here on the farm rising above the thirty degree mark (that’s 86 Fahrenheit). Now I know it’s not Arizona or Australia kind of hot, but for many of us northerners, especially those of dressed in fur year-round, it’s just too hot.

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Morning road walk. Anybody have a bowl of water?

 

Teresa tries to get us out early for our daily walks, but even in the morning that sun seems to blaze into my black coat. Since the start of the heat, we’ve been walking along the canal so that we can swim and drink as much as we want to. And then they sprayed weed killer. Teresa’s not a fan of chemicals and won’t walk us down there until there have been a couple of good rains. I appreciate the consideration but, man, I sure miss the water when we’re baking in the hay field or down the road. Come on, rain!

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Rain dance in the hay field.

 

I went out with Teresa late this morning on a horse manure pickup mission. Thankfully, the area the horses had dropped most of their piles was near a shady spot where I could lie and watch. I said I went out with her, I didn’t say I went along to help. Not much I can do anyway other than supervise and I think I handled it just fine from fifty feet away in the shade. But, even with the shady vantage point, by the time we came in I was panting like a locomotive and seeking a little cool from the hardwood floor. I used to spend a lot of time in the basement during hot weather but, now that I’m getting on in years, I try to limit my trips up and down the stairs. Preservation, you might say.

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Maybe next time I’ll stay inside for horse chores.

 

On a positive note, Dictionary.com says that the Dog Days of Summer is “a period marked by lethargy, inactivity, or indolence.” Well, at least I’m doing it right.

Making Hay

I’ve been here on the farm for thirteen summers. And almost all of those thirteen summers, Teresa & Nollind have been making hay. It started with a couple of acres and some old equipment, and has expanded into over half of our land, two other properties, and newer, flashier equipment.

What hasn’t changed is my supervision of the process. As a fellow four-legged, albeit a carnivore, the horses rely on me to oversee the production of their winter food. I let the humans do the heavy lifting, literally, but I am the brains behind the operation.

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Supervising the first load. They were a good crew so I didn’t have to watch them all evening, but I did wander over to check their work while they were having post-stacking drinks.

 

Teresa has her microwave testing process set up in the garage and she checks the moisture levels before they bale. They could just ask me. I’d give them a moisture reading with one sniff. But I hear it’s good to make your people feel empowered.

 

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Checking hay moisture. I’d say … 16%.

 

This week the sun is shining and a breeze is blowing across the prairie which makes for perfect hay drying conditions. There’s also an excessive heat warning for our area, which makes for not-so-perfect hay stacking conditions. Luckily, I have paws rather than hands, so am not well designed for picking up or stacking fifty-pound bales.

I was out checking the moisture on the second field this morning. Now that Teresa has confirmed the results of my nose test, Nollind is over there raking and they’ll be baling this afternoon.

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Canine approved – ready to rake and bale.

 

Me? I’ll wait here in the cool until my services are required again.

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My favourite place when it’s 30+ degrees outside.

 

The Domino Effect

I’ve had a few messages asking how my leg is doing one month post-injection. Well, it’s doing just great. I haven’t needed any painkillers since the first few days after the procedure. It took some time for the medicines that were injected to do their good work but, once they did, I was off and running.

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Pain-free and drug-free trot through the pasture.

There is one problem though, a sort of domino effect, and it’s been rearing its head this past couple of weeks. You see, with my right leg no longer slowing me down, I’ve been a lot more active and am now discovering that some of the other parts of me are older than I thought they were. For example, my backend seems to be having some difficulty keeping up with the front, and it wobbles sometimes after I’ve exerted myself. I’m always tempted to look back there to see what the heck is going on, but I don’t of course. I forge on like nothing has happened, hoping nobody noticed but me.

On the plus side, I’m keeping up with Chico when we chase after the ball, I’ve got two good front legs to dig out my nests around the yard, and I’ve been back on my morning reconnaissance missions to the neighbours’ place. Until last year, I was making regular trips over to Kerry and Debbie’s acreage, just to check things out, make sure all was well. Pretty sure they’re relieved to have me back on duty.

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My favourite nest … a little deeper this year.

I’m also back outside helping with chores and hanging out while Teresa does horsey stuff. By last summer I was pretty much spending the rest of my day indoors after our morning walk.

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Hanging out under Sid while Teresa does chores.

But what to do about this hind end wobbliness? I make a point to climb in and out of the canal when we’re walking to try to build strength. Some spots on the canal have a rather steep drop into the water so it can be touch and go when my front end is on the shore and my backend still in the water. I have to will those back legs to take that big step up. I know Teresa is right there to grab the handle on my harness if I need a boost but God forbid it comes to that again like it did on one walk last fall. How humiliating.

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Come on legs … you can do it!

I also work the ditches when we walk on the road. Those to the south are fairly steep and provide a decent workout. And our walks generally include at least one long, gradual slope. We’re not exactly in hill country out here but we do have some rolling landscape in every direction but east.

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Working the south ditches.

I’ve been trying to eat a little more in the mornings and I think that’s helping too. As they used to say to Dixie before her walks, “Power up!” It seemed to work for her so I’m game to give it a try. A few days ago I noticed that my portion had grown some, but I powered through, got it all down, and had plenty of energy for our canal walk later that day. But I’ll not to get too carried away. Every time I go to the vet they comment what great shape I’m in and how it assists with keeping my arthritis in check.

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Staying svelte.

As good as I feel, I still have a bit of a hitch in my giddy-up from the right elbow and I’m not sure it will ever go away entirely. It doesn’t really hurt but I think the calcification from years of inflammation has decreased its range of motion. I’d say more massage could help with that. Anyone got a spare hand for a little leg massage? Teresa? Nollind?

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Ready for my post-walk massage.