What I learned this week: Don’t walk a dog down an extremely crowded pedestrian mall on a 95-degree afternoon.
I should have thought more carefully about this one. Even though it was very hot, I was enjoying my weekly walk with Bo on Saturday. We usually walk through the downtown mall–a bricked walk through a row of shops that runs seven or eight blocks–and so I wasn’t thinking very clearly about it as I crossed over the bridge.
When we reached downtown, I was wondering why it was so crowded. Then I remembered that the big photography festival was concluding and all of the lectures and galleries centered around the mall. That’s why the streets were packed.
Poor Bo was a good sport for most of the walk. He was greeted by a friendly Frenchman, who whispered to him in French. He sat politely when a little girl came up to him and kissed him. He even voluntarily sat down–as I’ve trained him to do on our walks–when he saw other dogs approaching.
However, as the heat wore on and the crowds pressed even closer, Bo had had enough. I paused for a minute to greet a friend and when I turned around, Bo was lying on the ground, head between his paws. He looked at me imploringly, as if to say, “Do we have to go any further?” Poor thing. He was not going to budge. I stroked his head, spoke kindly to him, apologized for putting him through this hellish afternoon. But he didn’t care; he was done. I felt kind of terrible and tugging on his leash wasn’t accomplishing anything. The dog weighs almost as much as I do and there was no way I could carry him home.
Thankfully, I remembered that I still had a liver treat in my pocket (something that was not lost on him) and thankfully, this was a dog who was highly motivated by food. I pulled it out, waved it briefly in front of his nose, and he looked up and slowly picked himself off the ground to follow me. In this manner, we successfully made our way out of the mall and back to his home.
Overall, Bo handled the afternoon well. He is a submissive dog, but not shy; he wants to greet everyone and every moving thing. However, I think the noise and pressure of the crowds, plus the heat, were overly taxing even for this friendliest of all pooches. I was also worried about the hot asphalt on his paw pads, so we tried to take the most shady and grass-lined routes. All in all, not our most successful walk, but he’s an extremely forgiving companion, as far as I can tell.
I couldn’t help but wonder, though, what people do to exercise their dogs in sweltering climates. Even though I’m sure it was good for him to have an hour-long walk, he didn’t seem to enjoy it very much because of the heat. Do you live in a humid, hot climate? If so, how do you keep your dog fit and physically happy in the summer? I’m all ears!