June 4, 2924

Waldo is nervous about what’s behind him.


Did you know that there are over 300 words for ‘love’ in canine?

-Gabrielle Zevin


There are a few hot days now.  The forecast is for temps in the high seventies today, so Waldo and I are walking the rail trail in the morning, when it is still in the high sixties to low seventies.  It’s hard to predict how hot it will feel for a given temperature.  Humidity, the amount of wind and the presence of direct sunlight, all play a role.  It’s going to rain tomorrow, and maybe for the next few days, so we don’t want to miss a nice, even if a little warm, day to walk.

We park in our usual spot and Waldo seems somewhat reluctant to leave the car.  I don’t force him and, with just a little encouragement, he’s soon prancing down the trail, sniffing his way along.  But he’s still acting strange.  He lags behind me, instead of going out front to the end of the leash.  He sometimes does that when there are bicycles coming up behind us – he doesn’t like bikes that do that.  I turn to look, but there’s nothing there.  I tug on the leash and force him to walk beside me or in front of me.  He is stopping, turning his head and looking behind us, every few seconds.  I look back that way and see nothing, not even another person.  It’s strange.

I watch Waldo’s body language carefully.  He does not seem to be in any distress.  He’s not laying down in the shade, his tail is not tucked between his legs.  He seems perky enough and doesn’t unduly resist the tug on his leash.  He just seems preoccupied, wary without being anxious.  I’m sure he’s hot, hell, I am, but he doesn’t seem to be distressed about it.  I offer him treats and he comes right up to me, sits and eagerly accepts what’s offered.  I offer him water and he rejects it, pushing his water bottle away with his nose.  His stools are normal and the amount he urinates hasn’t changed.  ‘Tis a puzzle.  Maybe he’s just not in the mood.  I know I’m like that sometimes.

He continues to behave a bit oddly all the way to our turnaround point.  On the way, we pass people and people with other dogs and he is as eager as ever to stop and say hello with vigor.  He does go off to the side of the trail and sniffs around, but not for long, then turns again and looks behind him.  I frequently turn and look back where we’ve been as well.  Maybe he knows something I don’t.  But I can’t see anything that would elicit that behavior.

We get to the turnaround point, reverse our course, and Waldo goes back to the front end of the leash and tugs with a purpose.  This dog wants to get back to the car.  It’s hot, but he’s not seeking out the shade or laying down to rest.  He’s panting with his tongue limply protruding and flopping around, but it is dripping with saliva.  He just goes out front and pulls gently on the leash to encourage me to “come on!”  Waldo is on a mission.

I’ve seen him behave this way when the temps get up to around 78℉, but I also remember him as a puppy walking in 87℉.  That’s clearly too hot for him and I won’t expose him to that again, but the maximum temperature we have during our walk is only 75℉.  Is his reluctance due to the temperature?  It is sunny, but radiation heating should bother me more than him.  He has a coat of fur to keep the sun’s direct heat off his skin; I just have clothes that cover a part of my body.  There’s a slight breeze blowing and the humidity isn’t all that high.  I continue to worry over it as we get back to the car.

Once in the car, Waldo curls up and settles down.  I open up the windows and set the environmental control to 68℉.  Soon, we are both basking in the wafting cool air from the AC vents.  Waldo lays his head down on the console between us and seems more content.

Once home, Waldo makes a beeline to his water bowl and sucks down an appreciable amount.  He then goes out to his throne over his dogdom and stays there, in the sun, apparently unconcerned with the heat.  I can’t get my head around it.

I guess the next thing to try is to leave earlier in the day, when it’s cooler, to see if that makes him any more comfortable.  Fortunately, the next few days are forecast to be cooler and intermittently wetter, so we won’t have to get up predawn.

Balancing getting Waldo out for enough exercise while doing it in weather that’s not too hot for him just might be a problem.  He is getting older (he will be 6 on August 25, about 45 in people years), so that might be playing a role.  Global warming is making things hotter and hotter every year (our forecast is for unusually high temps and wet weather this year).  I am going to have to brush him more often and get rid of some of his winter coat, for sure.  Maybe I should consider going on shorter walks more often, that add up to the same daily distance?  Something to think about.

I do want Waldo to have a good time while we’re out getting our exercise.


And he really doesn’t like the bikes.

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