Summer delight!

Summer’s here! The kids can’t wait for the vacations to start, and parents wish they’d never. It’s all fine when the kids come back after a tiring day at school, but how do you match their energy levels when they are unbridled from the burdens of a taxing day at school. Time for Juno, the family dog, to jump in and take matters into his paws.

Juno probably isn’t allowed into that theme park your kids want to go, or that crazy place they call a mall, which makes you feel lighter (certainly in your pocket). But how about taking the musketeers and their furry accomplices out for a picnic? Or asking the toddlers to make a special treat for their favourite four legger? Here’s some pointers on how to keep both of them busy….

Make little frozen Dogciciles

One of the best things about summer is ice cream. Almost no one can resist a cold treat on a hot day. Well
Rupal and Bruno
neither can your dog (and that’s no surprise, is it?)! While you could stock up on readymade ice creams for your pet, here are some ideas for homemade frozen treats that are fun to make with your kids.
Dogs love frozen treat cubes. Add a piece of carrot, banana, strawberry or pineapple to the water in the ice-cube tray and pop it into the freezer. Use fruit juice or yogurt instead of water to make it a bit more special. You can also freeze chicken broth if the flavour of meat appeals to your little carnivore. Add a piece of cheese as a surprise centre. Make sure you buy a set of ice-cube trays just for him, in a different colour. You don’t want to end up with broth cubes in your cola.

Plan a picnic

Pack up the kids and hounds into the car and head to a pooch friendly picnic destination. Pick a spot in the shade of a tree for the blanket. Bring along a frisbee or a ball and turn the critters loose. Kids and dogs are bundles of energy. But the best part, however, is putting them together to make them cancel each other out, leaving you to relax with a drink in the cool comfort of the shade. Don’t forget to pack doggy special treats. Dry dog food works best. Pack a bowl of water too. Bear in mind to watch out for signs of heat exhaustion.

Take a hike

If you have a medium to large-sized athletic dog who is reasonably well behaved out of doors then you are blessed with an excellent hiking buddy. Build your dog’s stamina over time.
Again, pick a dog friendly destination. Start very early in the morning. Always keep your dog on a leash and out of trouble. Watch out for creepy-crawlies that might sting your dog. Make sure to keep an eye open for signs of heat stress and be prepared to turn right back around if you do. Better not scrimp on water for your dog, so always carry extra. Most importantly, pick up your dog’s poop. I know it sound cumbersome, but don’t ruin the trail for other hikers. All this said, hiking can be an excellent bonding experience for pet parent and dog, and very rewarding too.

Go to the beach

If you are lucky enough to live by a lonely stretch of the coast, take your dog along for a frolic at the beach one evening. If you live close to a pond or lake, make the most of it. Kids love water and dogs take naturally to almost any body of water and are excellent swimmers. Turn them loose and watch them go. Just make sure Rover has finished his ‘business’ before going for a swim. Not only is it unsightly if he ‘goes’ by the water, it could turn into a public health nuisance.

Turn on the sprinklers

Don’t live by the ocean, never mind. Turn on the sprinklers in your lawn. Or hand the garden hose to your kids. You can even add a kiddie pool to step-up the fun. Kids love watering the garden with hoses. And need we mention the effect it has on dogs? This will keep them all busy in the garden to work up a thirst, while you make tall glasses of lemonade in the kitchen. Hand the dog a few of those frozen treats you popped in the freezer yesterday.

A joyride for all

Going to pick up the kids from their grandparents? Take the dog along for the drive. Just roll down the windows and let the cool breeze in. Watch as your dog pops his head out, ears flying, tongue lolling- who can miss the look of joy on his face? They love taking in the scenery and watching other cars go by.

Just snuggle

Some days kids are just too lazy to get out of bed. The whole point of a summer break is to rest and rejuvenate, right? Let your kids spend the day snoozing in bed with your dog. Dogs spend half their life sleeping, that’s 12 hours a day, making them excellent snooze buddies. Or let them snuggle up against your dog while they catch up on some reading or watch a movie. A doggie movie would be lot better!
Whatever you decide to do this summer, make sure you spend a lot of quality time with your Dog Friday. For all the love (and some drool) that he “showers” on you he deserves loads of pampering.

(Kadambari Venkatraman is a vet, pursuing her postgraduate studies in Veterinary Surgery and Radiology at SVVU, Hyderabad.)