Hazy, Lazy, and Definitely Crazy

When you’re Canadian, there’s a general rule that you don’t complain about hot weather, because we get so much of the other kind. But when it jumps from frosty to fiery in the space of a week, a guy can whine just a little, especially when he wears a fur coat.

Is it just me getting older or is this hot spell on the early side? I think when I have more time to acclimatize to the warming of the weather I’m okay. But heat warnings in the first days of June?

Environment Canada’s banner for our part of Alberta

In southern Alberta, we’re accustomed to big and sudden weather changes. My friend G says he would diagnose the climate here as having borderline personality disorder. We can drop or increase twenty or thirty degrees in the space of a few hours when a Chinook rolls in or an Arctic front shows up.

After a few warm, sunny days, a cool, cloudy one makes this dog pretty spunky.

May is not without this changeable tendency, and there’s history of major storms in May, but the four-season swings normally stick to March/April and October/November, the shoulder seasons when anything can happen, and often does. This year March was relatively well behaved, April was nicknamed Blah-pril for its stubborn clinging to non-spring-like conditions, and it was May with the diagnosable condition.

The month started off with swimming and hiking weather. Here I am on May 1 dipping my toes in the canal, and just a few days later hiking in warm, sunny weather at McKinnon Flats for Nollind’s birthday.

A week later we were chilly and soggy out here on the prairie and a little to the west in Calgary there was snow on the ground. Our first night of camping at Dinosaur Provincial Park was hats and mitts weather, but by the time we left three days later, they took me walking early in the morning to avoid the heat.

Our next camping trip started out with the peeps in flip-flops and ended a day earlier than planned with a heavy snowfall warning in the area where we camped.

A flip-flop weather start to the trip.

And now we’re having a heat wave more typical of July or August. Technically, the thirty-plus degree weather happened in June, not May, but barely. Either way, I’m still dressed for that snowfall warning! And, needless to say, I’m wilting. T gave me a bath yesterday, which I’m not a fan of, but I must confess, it felt pretty fine. I was damp and cool the rest of the day. But please don’t tell her. She’ll be bathing me every time the thermometer rises beyond twenty, which is about where I start to feel it these days.

A cool nap, post bath. (Yes, my tail does get that fluffy when wet.)

As a young dog, I’d lie in the sun on the hottest of afternoons in Alberta’s summer or Arizona’s winter, Logan and the peeps parked in the shade marvelling at my fortitude. They nicknamed me Sunny D. But those days are long gone. Now a walk without cloud cover that gets near or above twenty Celsius better have at least two or three getting-wet opportunities. I guess I’m Shady D or Soggy D now.

Sunny D in Arizona.

The good news is, in true Alberta fashion, this heat won’t last long. By tomorrow it’s supposed to be cooler and potentially wet. Perfect, says this dog. Sign me up.

Too Sexy for the Dog Park

It’s long been a struggle of mine, being too sexy for my own good. I haven’t written about this before because it’s … well … kind of embarrassing.

If you’ve been around dogs before, you know that, despite our cuteness, we can be crude creatures. A prime example is how we get to know each other by sniffing each other’s butts. It’s completely normal behaviour in our world and is the way we identify one another should we meet again. You’d be surprised at how much information a dog can pick up from the scent molecules and pheromones of another dog—health, reproductive status, happiness, gender, and even diet. Cool, right?

Dog park sniffing chain.

Another common behaviour in the canine world is mounting or, the less attractive sounding, humping. You’ve all seen it, one dog latched onto the back of another. The humper can be male or female, as can the humpee, and being fixed doesn’t mean it won’t happen.

Sometimes it’s a misguided attempt at play, other times it’s one dog displaying dominance over another, and then there’s my situation. For me, it’s almost guaranteed to happen with intact males, occurs regularly with fixed males, and every now and then with a female. In a lot of cases, the owners are surprised, swearing it is highly unusual behaviour for their dog. Well, not when it comes to me.

If he were taller…

It looks something like this … New dog comes running up to me to say hello, tail wagging, all set for a meet and greet, and then they get the scent, that something about me that drives them to unseemly behaviour. It’s especially strong around my shoulder blades so I’ll end up with a taller-than-me dog running along beside drooling over my shoulders, waiting for an opportunity to jump on. And they do, repeatedly, sometimes having to be dragged away by their owners.

I try to keep walking and mind my own business, but if it’s a big dog and they latch onto my hindquarters, I’m stuck. That’s usually when I’ll growl or snap, to let them know I’m not impressed. But it doesn’t work. My intoxicating scent has clouded their ability to hear what I’m saying no matter how loudly I shout, “Get. Off. Me!”

Lucky for me, this guy didn’t like my cologne.

It didn’t happen as often when I was a young dog so I guess I’m just getting sexier with age. Problem is, I’m also less able to withstand large dogs jumping on top of me as I get older. Last Sunday at the Strathmore Dog Park, out of just eight dogs in the park, two of them were all over me, one of them a standard poodle who jumped on me twice and then knocked me onto the frozen ground. My left hind leg has been stiff and sore ever since and the peeps have curtailed my walks to give it a chance to heal.

Dog parks were better when I had my wingman.

Once, at the Southland Dog Park, there was a bulldog named Angus who got so crazy with lust that his horrified owner had to drag him away until she felt it was safe to let him off his leash. But what did Angus do as soon as the leash was disconnected? He came running for me from the other side of the park as fast as those stubby legs would carry him, smashing into me, knocking me to the ground, and then humping my side as I lay there stunned.

If it were small dogs that took an interest it wouldn’t be so bad, but they can’t get their noses into that sweet spot between my shoulders.

I love playing with small dogs.

So, what to do? T tried a deodorizer in my fur right before we went to the park on Sunday. It didn’t help at all. Or maybe it did and I’d have had four or six dogs on me instead of two with particularly good noses. But I don’t think so. What I do think, and I’m pretty sure my peeps agree, is that my dog park days are over, at least the small and/or crowded variety.

Pretty sure I’m safe with this guy.

I’m okay with it really. In my early days with T and N, I was more inclined to sit with them in the park than visit with other dogs (like in the photo below taken in California) and I’m generally as interested in sniffing around where dogs have been as meeting the dogs themselves. And, at this stage of life, when I no longer have excess energy to burn or a desire to roughhouse, an on-leash walk or a wander through a big off-leash area suits me just fine.

As for the sexy part, well, there’s not much anyone can do about that.

Winter Wimp

This isn’t the first time we’ve posted about the weather here at the Fur-iday files, and it won’t be the last. Living in the country, especially in a winter country like Canada, makes the weather a big factor in how we go about day-to-day life.

The photo below was taken in the first few days of February. The temperature was right around freezing, the sun was shining, there was fresh snow in the pasture, and we went for a lovely walk. Within a few days, the daytime “highs” weren’t getting beyond -20⁰C (-4⁰F) and the wind made it feel like the -30s and even the -40s overnight.

A beautiful winter day in Alberta.

Despite my five winters spent in warmer places, I consider myself pretty sturdy, or at least I did until this winter. You might remember the day-camping experiences I wrote about, one in December at Dinosaur Provincial Park and the other in January in Kananaskis. Both were on what we Albertans consider warm winter days and yet both times I ended up with my teeth chattering.

So, in light of those experiences, even though I’m generally okay when I keep moving, my peeps were taking no chances and had my winter jacket on me as soon as the temperature reached -20.

Jacketed up for our daily walk.

If the jacket wasn’t bad enough, one day when we went out to feed horses, I ran off into the field to smell something enticing, and it was like there were piranha in the six inches of snow, nipping at my feet. I pulled up a paw and shook it but each time I set one down to pick up another the biting started again. I hobbled to the barn where T warmed each of my paws in her hands.

Warming up after our daily horse-feeding chores.

It happened again the next day while I was waiting to get in the car. By the time T had the Soggy Dog straightened and a few items removed from the back seat, I was doing the paw-shake dance again. It was official … I’d become a winter wimp.

Next day, the boots were on. I guess I should have seen that coming. At least I can walk in them now, not like the old days when they just felt too weird too move. (Check out this video.) Logan loved his boots, skipping and hopping when they went on. Now I’m beginning to see why.

G’d up from the feet up.

Wednesday, hallelujah, I was coat and boot free when we walked our road to the south, and T and Nollind were able to lose the balaclavas, goggles, and insulated overalls. So freeing!

At least I don’t need all the face gear.

After a mostly mild January, ten days wasn’t really so long, but it sure felt that way. I hate to say it, but this previously snow-loving dog just might be a snowbird. No slipping on icy roads and pathways, no piranha snow, no teeth-chattering picnics, and no need for dog clothing. Although, Logan did wear boots in the desert as his paws aged and got tender on the rocky ground.

Logan in his shiny new hiking boots.

So far I haven’t had to wear boots down south but then I didn’t need them in cold weather until this year. No matter how tough we intend to be when we get older, it just doesn’t seem to work that way. I guess that’s why there are so many human seniors in the desert walking on bare ground and soaking up the sunshine, because it makes life more comfortable … not to mention less hazardous.

Happy, healthy snowbirds out exploring.

For now, I’ll take the 0⁰C (32⁰F) we’re supposed to have today, about 20 degrees above coat and boots, and if it gets cold again, go back to doing a lot of this …