Charle Thibodeau
Special to the Citizen Telegram
Rifle, CO Colorado

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June 27, 2012
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It's summertime! Hot dog!

Here is an experiment for all dog owners who love taking their best friends with them.

Objective: To determine the effects of high summer temperatures on you and your dog.

Items you will need: Go find the box packed away with your winter clothes. Adhering to cold-weather layering protocol, first put on your long johns. This layer can be compared to your dog's natural undercoat of hair.

Then pull out the "good up to 20 degrees below zero" parka and put it on. The parka is equivalent to your dog's regular coat of hair.

You will not need your boots; actually for this experiment, it is preferred you have bare feet.

You may not remove any of your winter clothing during this experiment. You will also need a device to record time and temperature.

Procedure: After you are appropriately clothed in the above attire, proceed to get in your car and drive yourself and your dog to the supermarket. You are welcome to use the air conditioner while you drive or just leave the windows down and hang your head out.

Once you arrive at the supermarket, record the time and temperature inside the car. You must shut the engine off and lock the doors, but feel free to leave the window cracked for some air. You are also allowed to put up the sun-shade to reduce UV rays streaming into the car.

Send your dog into the supermarket for the items you need, while you wait in the car. If you only need a few items, the dog should be gone 10 to 15 minutes.

The time you spend in the car will be variable. Possible factors that will determine length of stay in the car include how busy the store is at that time of day and how many sale items the dog happens to observe while traversing to the rear of the store to retrieve the milk. (For best results, the ideal time of day to conduct this trial is 2-6 p.m.)

If you are still coherent when the dog returns, document the time and temperature. If you remembered to pack some water, you are allowed a small bowlful at this time.

The next stop is the outdoor farmers' market. You must remain fully clothed in your winter attire, but remove any footwear. As most markets are located in parking lots and blocked off streets, you should get the full effect of scorching hot asphalt between your toes.

Proceed to wander around the various vendor booths in your bare feet waiting patiently while your dog shops for local fresh produce. There will be many spectators who will want to come up and discuss your attire and probably want to pet the dog.

Be patient and realize that spending time with your best friend is worth all the misery you are currently enduring. Record the number of heat blisters that arise on your feet in the next 12 hours.

Lessons: Spending time with your pet is undoubtedly the most rewarding time of the day. "Load up, let's go," is often your dog's favorite command. Never do our four-legged companions say they'd rather stay home.

Please be cognitive in realizing that certain outings might not be pleasurable to your dog, even if it is precious time spent together.

The inside of a car can heat up to unbearable temperatures in relatively short periods of time. Heat exhaustion can lead to serious physical injuries to your pet and in extreme cases can even be fatal.

There are laws against leaving pets in cars on hot summer days that can result in animal cruelty citations from local law enforcement agencies.

If you do take your dog out on hot summer days, make sure you take a bowl and a container of fresh drinking water. Offer small amounts of water frequently to keep your dog hydrated. Frozen water bottles will melt slowly and can also provide a cool pillow placed under a blanket in the back seat.

Find a shade tree to park under, even if it means you must walk farther. If your errands require you to be gone from the car for any substantial length of time, leave your best friend at home.

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The Post Independent Updated Jun 27, 2012 05:41PM Published Jun 27, 2012 05:40PM Copyright 2012 The Post Independent. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.