The Summer of Living Dangerously

by Emily Kemme

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.

Mopsy lounges on the patio in the spot she deems is her right — the couch.

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.

Lily safeguards her rawhide stick by tucking up next to a chair.

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.

Chair Jumping:

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.

All four dogs get into position for the Feeding the Lions competition.

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.

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Pat Campbell September 8, 2020 - 8:33 pm

We got a dog to help make things better.

Emily Kemme September 8, 2020 - 8:34 pm

I hope your new doggie friend is helping.

Sandra Ramsey September 6, 2020 - 9:27 pm


Judy Thompson September 4, 2020 - 5:04 pm

omg!!that dog looks just like the one we had when I was a kid.

Emily Kemme September 4, 2020 - 5:04 pm

Maybe Luna is from the same breeder? Cook’s Collies in Kansas?

Barb September 2, 2020 - 1:48 pm

Boring and lonely

Emily Kemme September 2, 2020 - 1:48 pm

I’m sorry. It’s certainly a tough time. The days often run into one another with their sameness. Take care.

Scotty N Kathy Bosworth September 2, 2020 - 1:49 pm

Barb Here too. Better days are ahead!! ❤️

Susan B Anderson August 31, 2020 - 2:29 pm

Love this photo

Emily Kemme August 31, 2020 - 2:30 pm

Doug took it as a selfie while sitting in the back seat as we were headed to the vet — a place we visit a lot!

Sharon Weiland August 31, 2020 - 2:23 pm

Pretty pup

Dimitria Argos Hurst August 30, 2020 - 8:48 pm

Next, try cucumber lime vodka! Minus the fur.

Emily Kemme August 30, 2020 - 8:49 pm

Yum! That would be a nice change of pace.

Diane Bassett August 30, 2020 - 11:54 am

Love this piece. And I don’t know who is cuter- Doug or the puppy. Another well crafted piece that highlights your gifts!

Jodi Lynn Jacobs Katz August 30, 2020 - 11:54 am

I didn’t know you have to train boy dogs differently than girl dogs.

Emily Kemme August 30, 2020 - 11:57 am

They like to “mark” their territory, so it’s a bit harder to house break, I’ve heard. And the breeder recommended sticking with females since we already have two girls and adding a boy or two might have complicated the chain of command.

Jodi Lynn Jacobs Katz August 30, 2020 - 8:59 pm

I hear that boy dogs are more loving and affectionate to everyone wher girl dogs pick out one person that they are that way to. I have only had girl dogs and they were all great. Anastasia was a bit grouchy, but all my other dogs were very loving.

Emily Kemme August 30, 2020 - 9:00 pm

We’ve only had girl dogs and they’ve all been very loving — except for Ethel. . . she was a bit of a grouch, too.

Janice August 30, 2020 - 8:35 am

Thanks for the memories. Born and raised in Pueblo, I spent a life time at the Colorado State Fair! Dont’ remember any dog shows there but certainly toured the horse barns for days with my horse crazy sister.
As one of your timid friends, here’s to next week’s socially distant get together! Maybe the dogs will get some couch time then!

Emily Kemme August 30, 2020 - 11:57 am

State and County fairs are so much fun!And no to the dogs’ couch time! I thought they were remarkably well-behaved last night — only one foray onto the furniture!

Joanne Eskildsen August 29, 2020 - 9:37 pm

I can’t say “he’s adorable” for fear the collie is a “she”

Emily Kemme August 29, 2020 - 9:38 pm

This is a “she-her-hers” collie. We don’t do boy dogs. I have no idea how to train them. 😆😆

Joanne Allen Eskildsen August 30, 2020 - 11:52 am

Emily Kemme well if I said he it would mean Dr K and that’s ok too! You both are darling.

Lynne Hugo August 29, 2020 - 2:50 pm

Loved this one, Emily! For those of us who venture out with off leash (supposedly voice-command trained) Lab onto little used trails, during weird hours to further limit the already-unlikely possibility of human contact , I feel there should be a whole category of award, my personal favorite being, Best at finding dead things to roll in. Best at dashing off to chase random wind-blow dangerous leaf. Best at ferocious barking at non-existent enemy. Best at demanding multiple treats for non-existent good behavior. Best at collecting burrs in difficult to remove body parts. All would, of course be documented on video. Yes, I have evidence to submit for my entries.

Emily Kemme August 29, 2020 - 9:42 pm

I’m always amazed by your strenuous dog-walking activities, Lynne! We leave our four in the yard (with an invisible fence). I can’t imagine walking them all — but where you are, there’s the benefit of lovely open spaces. I think adding your competition categories would be a great idea! Mine might best your Lab at the ferocious barking at . . . nothing.

Nancy August 29, 2020 - 2:38 pm

LOL! Thanks for a great article! I only have my big cat, Wiki. Not sure she likes hotdogs, but she may like to participate! Lovely, lovely collies!!

Emily Kemme August 29, 2020 - 9:39 pm

Your kitty is equally lovely! How do you give her “treats” when she needs meds? Hot dogs have been so helpful!

Elaine Foe August 29, 2020 - 2:21 pm

That herd of collies is a beautiful sight!

Emily Kemme August 29, 2020 - 2:23 pm

So, does that make me a she-herder?

Marilyn Raile August 29, 2020 - 11:16 am

Your dogs are beautiful!

Emily Kemme August 29, 2020 - 11:24 am

Thank you! That’s lucky, because they’re a handful.

Phyllis Alles August 29, 2020 - 11:15 am

Looks like you have a very handsome buddy

Emily Kemme August 29, 2020 - 11:25 am

Yes! Two of them here. . .

Tomoko Creed August 29, 2020 - 11:15 am

I have to come and meet your new pups soon!

Emily Kemme August 29, 2020 - 11:25 am

Yes! Let’s figure out when.

Anonymous August 28, 2020 - 8:22 pm

Good to know that I’m not the only bored Coloradan. Someday we’ll be hearing concerts, again.

Jackie Didonato August 28, 2020 - 7:23 pm

Love this, my summer went to trying to grow grass. I think it all washed away today.

Emily Kemme August 28, 2020 - 7:24 pm

I’m sorry about the rain — taking care of your yard is as tough as taking care of a bunch of dogs!

Jackie Didonato August 28, 2020 - 8:35 pm

Doing that too, the neighbors call me the dog walker in and out of the house with dogs.

Emily Kemme August 30, 2020 - 11:49 am

How many dogs do you have? I’m always impressed by people who walk their dogs. We rely on the invisible fence. They just chase reach other a lot.

Jackie Didonato August 30, 2020 - 11:51 am

3 dogs right now, one of them I am caring for while my sons at school.

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