It’s officially HOT in the northern Sacramento Valley where I live. These are more or less normal temperatures for July in this part of California; it’s even hotter another 60 miles or so farther north in Redding, a town that often makes the news for the day’s record high temperatures in July and August.
Up until just a day or two ago, my dogs have been pretty comfortable. The low 90s are not so bad. This tips over into not-very-fun territory at about 95 degrees. That’s when we head for the water.
Despite the drought, we are fortunate to live close to several bodies of water to cool off in. We don’t much go to Lake Oroville, though we live right below it (yes, close enough to have had to evacuate when “that dam thing” happened some years back). We tend to go to the river that fills the lake, but downstream of the dam, where the water is quite cold (coming, as it does, out of the bottom of the lake), or to the “Lake Oroville Afterbay,” a very large, shallow reservoir that warms a portion of that river water so that it can better be used for agriculture.
Thank goodness, all of my dogs love to swim, even Boone, the newest member of our pack. As I write this, we’ve had our hottest day of the summer – and we’ve made the five-mile trek (in my air-conditioned car) to the Afterbay twice today.
In this weather, I make sure all the water bowls in my house and office are full of fresh, cool water, and provide buckets, not bowls of water for the dogs to drink outdoors. (The water in even very large bowls gets too warm outdoors in heat like this, even in the shade.)
It’s cooler in the house and cooler yet in my office, but until the thermometer hits 95° F., my senior dog Otto prefers to snooze in his shaded and properly dampened sandbox. Every morning, I shovel and rake it smooth, fluffy, and level, then wet the sand thoroughly. Then Otto gets in and digs the first of his napping holes. As the sun changes its angle over the course of the day, he’ll change positions and dig another hole, and I’ll adjust the umbrella to keep the box in full shade. Today, we hit 95° by 1 pm, and he reluctantly joined me, Boone, and Woody in my office.
When I went into the house at about 2 pm to make myself an iced coffee, I saw our young chickens had taken over Otto’s damp sandbox. Well, that’s fair. They aren’t joining us in my office, I swear!
Though the young dogs will romp and play chase games at the lake or river, I discourage any exercise at home in this heat until the sun sets. Then I’ll throw fetch items and let Woody and Boone play keep-away on our front “lawn” (a pretty motley lawn, kept barely alive with water restrictions due to the drought) – and occasionally spray them with water from the hose. Why dogs who love to swim hate being hosed so much, I don’t know, but when they are wet, they play much more raucously and without getting overheated, so I tell them to tough it out (and give them treats for coming to me, even with the hose in my hand).
All of these water-based solutions work so well for cooling here because it’s a DRY heat. I don’t know how you folks in humid parts of the country survive when it’s so hot.
How are you keeping cool?