Covid-19 sends summer plans to the dogs
I think we can all agree it’s been an unusual summer. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say it’s been the most boring summer ever. Maybe you got lucky; your summer fell somewhere between the two. All I know is how much I miss vodka lemonade.
There’s no need to become maudlin and get all depressed; you don’t have to worry about my state of mind. I’ve been drinking vodka lemonade for days! But because of this summer’s unusual nature, my vodka lemonade-drinking style has been curtailed, limited to drinking my favorite chilled summer beverage on my own back patio surrounded by four collies.
To be honest, surrounded doesn’t quite capture the copious amount of fur I’ve endured throughout the summer of 2020. There are the two older collies, Flopsy and Mopsy, who are eleven, which converts to 70 in collie dog years. The youngsters, Lily and Luna, hit the five-month mark last week. In dog years, at age six-and-a-half, these elementary school kids demand a lot of attention. It’s not of the “Let’s go for a walk,” sort of dog time, nor are they a huge chore at feeding time because all four have free access to food whenever they’re awake.
The attention my four dogs crave centers on my lap — specifically, who gets to sit on it.
You’re likely wondering how two full-sized collies weighing 65 and 55 pounds respectively, paired with two young-uns, at 35 pounds apiece, can all fit on my lap.
The answer to the question of who gets to sit on Mom’s lap while she’s sipping vodka lemonade is an easy one. After enduring days and days on end of fur, fur, fur in my cocktails, and after playing “the nice Mom,” I’ve decided our new house rule is OFF THE COUCH! Or if you want to be specific: GET OFF OF ME!
So you see, I’ve solved Problem Number One: I now drink vodka lemonade undisturbed by dogs drooling on my lap. But in this summer of living dangerously, COVID-19 has created Problem Number Two: escaping the house for a few hours to sip vodka lemonades with things who aren’t covered in fur.
Pre-pandemic summers left us free to leave the house, leaving our dogs free range.
In pre-pandemic days, summertime meant garden concerts with gourmet picnics (and vodka lemonade garnished with blueberries); vodka lemonade at our town’s great rodeo festival, The Greeley Stampede; and vodka lemonade liberally and repeatedly imbibed in restaurants and on friends’ back patios.
Because our activities have been limited in scope to one socially distanced weekly get-together with a hand-chosen group of like minded folks — their timidity in venturing out is a good match for ours — boredom is hard to keep at bay. And since we’re home so much, the dogs can’t sneak onto the couches because we know what they’re up to. We call it keeping the house clean. The dogs believe we are not gracious about acknowledging their needs.
That’s why, when I learned about the Colorado State Fair Reimagined, particularly the fact that much of this Colorado agricultural mainstay would take place virtually, I got excited.
For 148 years, the Colorado State Fair, like most events of its type, has an Ag-centric focus where participants show off large produce specimens and compete with their farm or ranch animals in the hopes that after tending these adoring animals over the long, dreary winter, the (often youthful) farmer can sell their animals for a bundle to be applied to his or her college fund — and eventually escape to the Big City! There’s a lot of heartbreak in this gig, but it’s good for moral fiber, or so I’ve been told.
Because everyone has to stay at home during this unusual summer of 2020, and they can’t sample the delectable goodies (including lemonade) or see the sights at the Fair, the Colorado Fair Folks have been pretty darned smart. They also recognize that dog adoptions and sales are off the charts, more so than any time in recent memory — and amazingly — in even greater numbers than baby bunnies historically sold alongside fluffy, yellow chicks for Easter.
All this translates to oodles of bored dogs living in Colorado. Since the pandemic began in late February, I have five friends alone who, resigned to the fact of no travel this year, believed it the opportune moment to add a fur-baby to their family. In fact, like us, most of these friends added two dogs.
What this means is there are billions of dogs longing for their owners to leave the house so they may lounge undisturbed on the porch furniture.
The Fair Folks put together a Virtual Pet Photo Competition, which is a great idea, but the contest is now closed. Never fear, the Fair Folks are still offering the Great Colorado State Fair Butterfly Hunt! They understand how skilled we’ve become at staring at our home computer screens and have devised a method to keep our eyes glued even longer. Hunt a virtual butterfly each day to win prizes! Opportunities run from August 28 – September 7. If you’re in the Pueblo neighborhood, the fair grounds have been converted into a ginormous Drive Thru. Can’t get there to indulge your craving for funnel cakes and turkey legs? Watch the World Slopper-Eating Championship where nationally ranked eaters consume beef, cheese, and Pueblo green chile sandwiches for the title.
However, this doesn’t solve the problem of dog boredom. To help with your pet’s activity schedule, I’ve devised the Great Colorado State Fair At-Home Dog Competition.
A word of warning: you are working with live animals with mouths full of sharp teeth.
Rawhide Stick Chewing Musical Chairs:
Participants are dogs who play well with each other and are not prone to rawhide stick-stealing. For that reason, Mopsy has been disqualified. Provide each dog a stick and count how many times each stick changes paws.
An agility test best suited for younger dogs, position two chairs ten feet apart and place an ottoman between the two. On the count of three, see which dog can leap the farthest and fastest between chairs — all without touching the floor.
Feeding the Lions:
Distribute necessary medications disguised in hotdog segments. Prepare “dummy dogs” for the animals who do not partake in pharmaceutical supplements. Beware: this event is highly dangerous. Extending fingers toward an animal’s mouth while holding a hot dog is remarkable in its similarity to reaching into the maw of a man-eating plant.
Mopsy the Great Escape Artist:
Mopsy excels in escaping from her chicken wire-confined kennel. At three in the morning, this aging collie demonstrates feats of escapism to equal Houdini. How does she achieve this? Is she magic? Figure out Mopsy’s method to earn ten bonus points. Required equipment and skills: night goggles, stealth
Best in Show: Sit!
The dog who sits first to receive her hot dog wins.