By Janet McAfee

This August marks the one year anniversary of the death of a Silky Terrier who passed away in the blazing summer heat. The animal rescuers who valiantly tried to save the pup named her “Summer”. Summer sought refuge from the hot weather under an automobile in a Desert Hot Springs car lot. Tragically, the soaring temperature and the hot sand beneath her feet proved too excessive for Summer’s little body, and the site became her coffin.

Undoubtedly, there are other Coachella Valley dogs that passed away from this summer’s relentless heat, some left in cars, others left on hot patios, or kept as “outdoor only” dogs in backyards. Their stories did not make the news or grab the attention of hundreds of animal lovers as did Summer’s sad ending. This cannot be said enough – – – BRING YOUR DOG INDOORS DURING THIS HOT WEATHER!

Take Benji on long walks in the early morning and evenings, avoiding outings when the sun is at its highest. Avoid asphalt and concrete when you walk, and stick to shaded areas whenever possible. This is not the time to have him run alongside while you bicycle ride. Popular flat nosed breeds such as Shih Tzu’s, Pugs, Pekingese, Bulldogs, and Boxers are at greatest risk from the heat, as are puppies and older dogs.

Most Coachella Valley residents are wonderful pet parents, and they keep their pets indoors and treat them like family. Dogs are social pack animals, and like nothing more than being by your side.

It is a sad sight to see a neighbor’s dog tied to a post or fence day after day in this sweltering heat, forlorn and bereft of human companionship. Under California penal code section 597, it is illegal to tether or chain a dog to a post or other structure for longer than 3 hours in a 24 hour period. Other dogs may have the run of the yard, but they suffer horribly in the blazing sun, their water bowls heating up. Dogs sweat through their foot pads, and their release of body heat is not as efficient as in humans.

If you decide to approach offending friends and neighbors, do so in a nonjudgmental way, trying to educate them about the dangers the heat poses to their pets. Ask them, “Why do you keep your dog outside?” Some people were raised by parents who admonition “dogs belong inside” is embedded in their minds. Some people grew up on farms and in rural areas where dogs mingled with outdoor livestock and appeared content. Others came from countries where dogs are routinely kept outside all the time. However, we live in a geographical area of extreme summer heat that can jeopardize your dog’s health and even cost him his life. Rising temperatures cause a multitude of medical problems for your dogs that can bring expensive veterinary bills.

Bored and lonely, outdoor only dogs frequently develop bad habits. They chew up patio furniture, dig up plants, and create a neighborhood nuisance with their incessant barking. These animals lack socialization, and fail to bond with their families.

Here is the best reason for keeping your dog inside the house with you. He will become your loving companion, amaze you with his devotion, comfort you when you are sick or feel blue, and communicate without speaking in ways you can never imagine.

I hope this article will make a few folks reconsider their position on the inside/outside issue. I hope this message will save the lives of dogs will not have to endure the suffering and premature death that happened to Summer, a dog that touched so many of our hearts. Please email me if this article convinces you or someone you know to transition their pet indoors. I will happily provide house training information or answer other questions about keeping your pup inside.

Stay cool, and enjoy the summer with Benji inside.