Hi, this is Noah. You know, the big reddish golden retriever that my humans sometimes write about. I’m now four and a half and old enough to write my own blog post. And I have plenty to say about dog day afternoons.
This term is one humans use to describe really hot summer days. And let me tell you, it’s been scorching hot in South Florida this summer – 95 degrees in the shade, the air so humid that when you draw it into your lungs it feels as weighted as concrete. On some days, the heat index – what the air temp actually feels like – reaches 105. Since I wear a fur coat, that is very hot and I am forced to find ways to mitigate it.
The first order of business is simple: drink a lot of water and cool off my paws by plunging into the pool that Cassie creates with a plain tarp in a square depression under a hose from which water flows.
Cassie is the human who owns two border collies – Kilt and Willow. Their breed of dog tends to be quite focused on a task and at the dog park, that task is racing after and catching whatever the humans toss their way. It’s usually a ball, but can also be a Frisbee. Although I can run fast in short spurts, these two border collies are long distance Olympic runners. I don’t compete with them. But even Kilt and Willow are worn down by the heat and end up in the pool, where all of us eventually immerse our entire bodies. This is them – without me!
I’m a large dog – 111 pounds the last time I was weighed – and there’s hardly enough room for the border collies, Red the hound and Cody the husky, but we somehow manage. Here are Cody and Red in a hole they dug to keep cool – before they joined me in the pool.
Then there are some pups who join us – Gaucho, 5 months, who keeps stealing my large orange ball and tries to bury it in the deepest corner of the pool, and some other nameless pups who bite my ears and lick my face.
It’s when the pups join me in the pool that I miss my Nika the most. She was just six weeks old when she joined our clan. She thought I was her big brother. She would bite my ears, leap up and try to box me with her little paws. When she slept, she curled up next to me, her paws draped over my legs. She lives with her human in another city now, but we visit frequently. I can always tell when she and her human are coming for a visit because my humans say things like, “Nika is coming to see you, Noah.” She and I had a wonderful week together in the Keys this summer.
With Nika gone, I’m forced to make new friends. That’s Zappo, king of the hill. He’s a Rhodesian Ridgeback, younger than me, and definitely a more deft climber!
I like Cody and Red, too, and the border collies, of course. I have a certain fondness for Gaucho, whose owner was raised in Argentina (thus the name, okay?). I’m also sort of smitten with Fergie, the pup next door, a German short-haired pointer whose energy is infinite and who enjoys a good tug-of-war.
But you know what? None of them are true love like Nika and me.
My humans talk a lot about synchronicity – what it is, why it is, when it is, what it means. But for me, for most dogs, it’s really pretty simple. On these dog day afternoons, I just surrender to the heat, to the cooling bliss of the pool, with the orange ball under my chin, and am thankful for what is. I shut my eyes for a moment, the heat pours over me, and I dream of the past, am fully rooted in the present, and embrace the future, whatever it may be. I’m in the flow – and that’s when it happens, where my inner and outer worlds come together in a meaningful way, without cause and affect.
I consider my day successful and happy when I can say, at every moment, Yes. Yes to all of it. That’s when I plunge my head underwater, where the water is deepest, and grab my orange ball. Yes, I’m ready for another round with all my buddies chasing my ball. Yes, yes, to mud puddles and chasing squirrels. Yes, I’m ready for my next visit with Nika, when she will jump out the car window to get to me before her human has even stopped her car. I understand that’s going to happen soon.
Yeah, it’s a dog day afternoon. I smell rain approaching from the Everglades to the west, Gaucho has run off with my ball, Kilt has stolen my Frisbee, Cody is grumpy about his human being out of town. But there are so many scents that lure us, so many distractions that seduce us, so many squirrels to chase, so many tasks to fulfill, so much to love and enjoy, that I leap out of the pool, shake myself free of the water, and race out across the dog park, hoping a human will hurl a ball or a Frisbee. Or both.
I am Noah. Welcome to my world.