Sunday, July 22, 2012

Inventively Trashy 2

Bulldogs overheat very easily. One might argue that they are not the ideal camp dogs. However, my camp is up north on a lake and even in the middle of the summer on the hottest days, I've been able to keep the dogs cool.

Except this year. There have been several hot days that have been unbearable and I have spent a lot of time worrying about my dogs and the heat, while dunking them in the lake, using wet towels to cool them down and squirting cold bottles of water into their mouths.

This morning, after getting Griffin wet (which he didn't enjoy), I couldn't handle the panting anymore and I brought both of them to the health center (which is the one air conditioned building at camp). I expected that they would enjoy the cool building, but they reacted like they were being held captive in a prison. I didn't think the nurse would really appreciate the screeching, so they didn't last very long (even though they were cool).

A few years ago, two big air conditioners were donated to camp. Unfortunately all of the windows in my house slide open and so you can't put an air conditioner in the window. There aren't any other buildings that they would fit either, so they've just been sitting in storage.

Until today. I pulled one out and plugged it in (and determined it worked) and then I decided I would figure out some way to get it to cool down some area of my house so I could cool the dogs down. This photo is of my laundry room and back door. Property Manager Tom gave me some foam board to fill the rest of the door and I shoved towels in the cracks to insulate it. This photo captures almost the entire small hallway, which is now pleasantly cool.

This is the least energy efficient, most trashy-looking solution to the problem, but it made the dogs stop panting and I'm hoping there won't be many more hot days so I won't need to use this very often.

Just another day in the life of camp dogs...

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Fleeing Camp

As I mentioned in the last post, the road to camp flooded and we became an island.

Because the road to camp was covered in 15 inches of water (at the shallowest point, deeper along the edges of the road), driving a car or truck through it is not possible. Two weeks ago, when we first heard about the flood, we parked the camp van about a mile away on the other side of the road. We’ve been walking through the water and up the mile long huge hill to use the van to go into town this week so we haven’t been completely stranded on this camp island.

When we left camp on Sunday, we all packed the least amount of stuff we needed for the week and loaded everything into a kayak, which we walked across the water and then loaded into the van. It took three trips.

Because I also have two fat bulldogs who are too short to walk through that much water and don’t float, they became the last kayak load. I was going to have them wear their life jackets, but it was INCREDIBLY hot outside and I didn’t want them to be any hotter than they already were. Also, the water was just barely over their heads, so I was pretty sure if they fell out, I could just pick them up.

Griffin looks excited, Olivia looks skeptical

Abby and I beginning the trek with the bullies

Almost all the way across
Several people were skeptical of my plan to kayak them across the road, but Olivia and Griffin adapt quickly. They were very calm the whole ride. Olivia looked annoyed and would have rolled her eyes if she could. She reminded me of a teenager who is completely embarrassed by her parents and offended she is being forced to do something so beneath her. She went along with it quietly and cooperated, but her eyes were saying, “I’m going to petition the court to emancipate me.”

Griffin was excited and he stood on the seat for most of the ride and looked around. I think I’m going to look for a captain’s hat for him. He reminded me of a little brother who is excited to be included and enthusiastic about the adventure.

It was a short ride and we got them to the other side without incident. It was unbearably hot while we did all of this and besides just being uncomfortable and sweaty, I was super anxious that the dogs would overheat, but they were fine.

The three hour van ride was another story. The camp van doesn’t have air conditioning. I though that wind blowing through the windows might be enough to keep it cool, but I was wrong. After about 30 minutes of anxious, distracted driving, I asked Abby to drive for me and I sat in the seat with the dogs. I continuously squirted water into their mouths while also hold a bag of ice all over Griffin’s overheated little body.

I have terrible motion sickness but had taken a pill as soon as I switched from driving, and while it helped, I was still carsick, kind of woozy from the medication and my shorts were soaking wet from the water, ice and slobber. And I was really worried about overheated bulldogs.

I think the ride was worst for me because Griffin and Olivia were fine and cooled down as soon as they got into the air-conditioned house. Crisis averted. Never a dull moment with bulldogs.

Friday, July 6, 2012

Catching Up

Oh what a summer it’s been. Pre-camp and staff training were LONG days and there wasn’t much to update. Despite the 12-14 hour days of busy-ness, I still found several opportunities each day to take Olivia and Griffin out to the field to play. The weather was mild and didn’t rain much, so in between playing, they were content to alternate between laying on the couch and sunning themselves outside. I leave my door open from the time we get up until it gets too buggy to keep in open at night, so they have total freedom to come and go.

Griffin hanging out with some of the staff on a break

The first week of camp was wonderful. No matter how much I talk about Olivia and Griffin being camp dogs and loving their lives at camp, I sometimes forget just how much they enjoy kids and thrive on the attention. During activity periods, they stay in my house or in my office because otherwise they like to join in kickball or make their way to the archery field and they tend to be a bit distracting. During in between times, I usually have them on their leashes to prevent them from stealing the 4-square ball or scaring any kids who are unsure of them. There were about 10 kids who took on the responsibility of dog walker that week and so I pretty much just hung out and watched them surround my dogs and pet them and talk to them. They dogs love it, are very well behaved when kids walk them and everyone was happy.
Griffin with some campers

Olivia hanging out with her biggest fan at camp
 After dinner, there is a 30 minute period when cabins can do anything they want and for the youngest two cabins (7 and 8 year olds) that time was “chase Griffin and Olivia on the field” time. I brought the dogs to the field to chase their ball and then 10-12 seven year olds would join in. By the end of the half hour, campers and dogs were both worn out and the counselors and I were mutually happy with the energy burned off.

The summer was off to a wonderful start and then the lake flooded. The water was really high and then it rained and then there was a flood. The water level is 9 feet higher than usual and our camp on a peninsula turned into an island and I watched for a week as more and more of the edges of the property got swallowed up. I cancelled the second week of camp and then the third and fourth sessions as well.

Exhausted after a long day of playing

Bored without any campers to play with

June 23-29, a handful of staff and I stayed at camp to make sure nothing floated away and to try to barricade buildings against the water. I had plenty of time to take the dogs to the field to play, so they were mostly satisfied, although I think they were a little confused why there were no kids to play with them.

The water crested on Friday (June 29) and has been receding slowly. We left camp for a week of rest on Sunday (July 1) and will return on Monday (July 9).

This week has been incredibly difficult for Olivia and Griffin. I have been reminding myself over and over that they are not going to die of boredom or crabby-ness, but I am stressed out every time I look at them.

First of all, the weather has been record breaking (it was 100 degrees yesterday) and it feels like an oven outside. It’s difficult to breathe and miserable to move. My house is refrigerator cool at 70 degrees and so the puppies have been prisoners inside. Olivia wants to go out, but after 5 minutes of laying outside, even she barks to get back inside. I

It’s been 5 days without chasing her ball and Olivia is so sad that I think she could be on a homeless animal commercial (the kind with the Sarah McLaughlin music in the background that I have to turn off the second it comes on tv). I feel anxious and terrible and like the worst bulldog mom alive, but there’s nothing I can do about it. I’ve tried walking them twice, but we only went one block and then we had to turn around.

Griffin is content to enjoy the air conditioning and chew on one of the many chew treats he has, but even he’s looking a little sad. He’s an incredibly social dog and I think he misses the staff and kids and enormous amount of attention he’s used to.

I know there are dogs that are abused, neglected, don’t have enough to eat, are sick or injured and have actual difficult lives. My very pampered, very spoiled dogs are not having their every desire met this week and are miserable and I feel SO guilty. But they will persevere and we will be back to camp soon and they can forget about this week of torture.