view counter

Exercise in the Torrid Zone

Take a Lab to water, and he’s a cool, happy dog 

      The zoomies, a recently coined term in the lexicon of canine behavior, describes sudden instances of dog hyperactivity characterized by brief periods of high speed and circular runs. What precipitates the zoomies, no one knows. We always marked it up to exuberance.
      It is generally harmless — except for collateral damage to delicate furnishings, appliances and knickknacks.
     Since we’ve had dogs the last 30 years or so, the zoomies are nothing new. Around the periphery of one of our back yards, my German shorthairs had worn a hard path into a sprint track where, at least two or three times a day, alone or one chasing the other, they would run at breakneck speeds for a half-dozen or so laps, then careen into the house for a drink.
      So when I sat in the TV room eating breakfast last week, I was not the least surprised when four-month-old Hobbes came flying through the doggie door, his feet barely touching the ground, hit the area rug in front of me and surfed to the far corner, rolled off of the now-bunched up carpet and bounded into the next room, sliding and accelerating like a dirt-track stock car.
     When he finally paused, panting with his big pink puppy tongue hanging out of his mouth and a pleased look on his face, I was, as usual, smitten with his act. Feeling guilty about not exercising him the last few days, mostly because of the extreme heat, I asked him, “Do you want to go for a run?”
     That precipitated another quick zoomie, terminated by his return to the TV room with his leash in his mouth and his tail threatening to clear anything from the nearby tables. As I carried my breakfast dishes into the kitchen to made good on my offer, I glanced at the outside thermometer: It read 95 degrees, and it was only 10am.
     Dogs are very susceptible to heat stroke because of their exuberance and willingness to perform to exhaustion. It would be near impossible to provide the pup with enough exercising to relax him. I say near impossible because we live in a water-rich environment.
     Swimming is mostly free from the dangers of overheating. I reached up to one of the places out of Hobbes’ reach and got out a couple of fetch bumpers hidden there before we both set out for the pickup.
     A number of locations near our community have water access, but we had to visit a few to find one empty of swimmers and boaters. We encountered a few crowds, but the high temperatures had so affected outdoor activity that it didn’t take long to locate a mostly deserted beach. 
      At the water’s edge, Hobbes didn’t wait for me to throw a bumper. He plunged in, splashing and jumping, sticking his head underwater and shaking himself off. He was, after all, a water dog.
     I had originally intended to begin his introduction to the water gradually in his very young puppyhood. However, his first experience had been accidentally stumbling into the small goldfish pond in our front yard, not exactly the learning experience I had envisioned. But he had not been alarmed by the incident.
     Taking that as a good sign, I started out having him fetch a tennis ball in the back yard. That proved his cup of tea. So much so that any loose tennis balls around the house had to be hidden or he would relentlessly torment you to throw the found ball for him.
     From the back yard, we moved to shallow waters in nearby beaches, never throwing the ball in waters so deep that he could not touch bottom. Only after several outings did we move to deeper and deeper water until fetching eventually involved swimming. He didn’t seem to notice any difference. 
      Since then, water retrieving has become our main source of summer exercise. It is intensive yet does not stress his body and keeps his internal temperature well within the safe zone. We keep the sessions short (about half an hour) with frequent rest periods. Our activity also results in Hobbes being nicely groomed, as we rinse him with fresh water and towel him off after every session.
     Finally, the energetic pup is likely to nap. It’s a plus for us all.
Fish Finder
      The summertime rockfish bite is good if you don’t mind the absence of fish over 22 inches. The 2015 year class, which was comfortably numerous, is providing the bulk of legal fish. How long they hold out remains to be seen.
     Chumming is still the most reliable method of getting a limit, and being on the water early is key to avoiding the August heat. Love Point, Swan Point, the mouth of the Chester then over to Podickery Point are the preferred locations above the Bay Bridge while Hackett’s and Tolley Point to the south are holding nice fish as well. Best depths are about 20 feet; much deeper and you risk the possibility of dead zones. It’s best to locate the fish on your finder before setting up as a lot of boats seem to be anchoring over empty water.
     Jigging over marked fish is also producing as long as the water is moving. So is live-lining. When the tidal current stops, so does the bite. For top-water action, the Eastern Bay is the place to look early and late in the day. Poplar Island has some pods of nice-sized stripers in the shallows. As does Thomas Point Light from time to time.
    Better croaker fishing is developing off the channels near the mouth of Eastern Bay. There are also quite a few spot and white perch in most area waters. Crabbing remains horrible but is picking up a bit, mostly near tributary mouths.