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What dogs do on their days off

Do you ever wonder what a dog does on its day off?

I discovered the answer to this age old question last Sunday. The temperature was in the mid 90s and the humidity was about the same. Our dogs both took a day off and did absolutely nothing.

Coty, the Lab, took up residence in front of the back door, only taking a break to go to the barn for an occasional drink. Dulce, our poodle, preferred the air conditioned comfort inside. When she did go outside, it was to the hill beside the house, in the shade of her favorite squirrel hunting tree. It would have taken a slow squirrel to make her get up and chase it in the heat.

By late afternoon, my wife and I had enjoyed all the lawn and garden work we could stand. We decided to go for a quick ride before we cleaned up and called it a day.

As we walked toward the truck, the dogs perked up for the first time of their day off. They have us figured out: If we are both going to the truck, we must be going to do something fun. Two pairs of sad eyes were too much to resist.

Coty jumped in the back and Dulce sat up front between us. There is nothing quite as fun as going for a ride in the truck. Coty can lean over the edge, tongue lolling and flapping in the breeze while drool flies down the side of the truck and onto the windshield of anyone who might tailgate. He drools a lot when he gets excited and going for a ride gets him very excited. Nobody tailgates very long.

Dulce prefers the center position in the front seat. She has two air conditioner vents hitting her and she can watch out both sides as well as the front. She is an excellent watch dog. She watches for deer, turkey and especially squirrels. So far, she has been able to protect from all three, just by being alert and ready.

The dogs were ready when we got to the lake. Coty bailed out of the truck, ran down the hill, and jumped into the water. He swam out, savoring the cool water. When he turned back, swimming toward shore he appeared to have a smile on his face. Dulce, being the lady she is, trotted to the edge and walked in until the weeds and mud were up to her belly. She could hunt frogs as she slogged along, cool mud squishing between her toes. I am not sure if she caught any frogs or not. Frogs are to be eaten and enjoyed on the spot. There is no sharing a good frog, unlike a squirrel that has to be proudly shown to anyone that will look at. I am sure she is afraid someone might take her frog away, depriving her of the delicacy, much like we do her squirrels.

My wife and I enjoyed the quiet late afternoon while the dogs played in the water. We saw a doe nursing her fawn as we drove across the dam. A short distance away, another doe was moving her twins out of their daytime hiding place as the shadows of the setting sun cooled the day.

By the time we returned, the dogs were ready to go. Coty loaded up in his usual place in the back of the truck and curled up to rest. Dulce got in front. She was rather wet, fairly muddy, and smelled a lot like a wet dog. She was content to stretch out across the front seat with her wet face resting on my lap. She did not watch on the way home, but after all, it was the dogs' day off.

Walter Scott is an outdoors enthusiast and freelance writer from Bloomfield, Iowa.