How to keep your dog cool at outdoor events

It’s September in Colorado, and it’s still HOT!

(It’s why pumpkin spice Frappucinos exist, probably.)

It’s also the tail end of art show and farmer’s market season, which means lots of people are out and about with their dogs.

Don’t get me wrong — for me, meeting dogs is the best part of art fairs and markets, and they’ll always be greeted with treats and water! But I do worry when I see fatigued, panting pups out in hot weather. If it’s very hot, it’s best to leave your pups at home. But if you do decide to bring them along, here are some tips to keep them happy and cool.

KoolSkinz Cooling Vest

KoolSkinz Cooling Vest

  1. Bring lots of water. While some vendors (like me!) have water bowls available, it’s best to carry your own source too. Collapsible dog bowls are easy to carry in a backpack or purse. Or you can try a “dog water bottle”, which is basically a bottle with an attached cup.

  2. Try a cooling vest. There are a couple kinds out there that work slightly differently. KoolSkinz, a Denver company, makes vests that hold freezable ice packs that stay cold up to two hours. Others, such as this one from Ruffwear, are soaked in water, using evaporation to cool off your pup.

  3. Consider booties. We all know that asphalt can get dangerously hot very quickly in the heat of the day, which can cause discomfort and even burns on a dog’s paws. Breathable dog booties are a great way to go. As an added bonus, they protect from glass and other sharp material that might be on the ground. My greyhound, Walker, wears shoes whenever he’s outdoors.

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Note: You might want to practice a little at home before taking the booties for a spin. Yes, your dog will probably do a silly walk (a la John Cleese) for awhile, but most dogs will get used to them pretty quickly.

4. Brush your pets before leaving the house. While shaving your dog isn’t always a good idea (especially if she has a double coat), getting rid of excess fur that they’re ready to shed can really help them to stay cool.

5. Listen to your dog. Heavy panting, excessive drooling, dry or pale gums, and deep, rapid breathing can all be signs that your dog is overheating. If this occurs, make sure to take a break, bring your pup to a cool area, and make sure to provide lots of cold water.

Stay safe and cool out there!

How it all began

Hey look — I started a blog! Now we have a new way of getting to know each other. How cool is that?

I thought I’d start by sharing my journey to becoming an artist.

My early style was abstract.

My early style was abstract.

Believe it or not, I didn’t always know I wanted to be an artist—in fact, I thought I was terrible at art.

I took one art class in middle school and failed so spectacularly at the pottery wheel that I had to give up and make a coil pot instead. I tried to paint a portrait of my redheaded best friend by mixing yellow and red to make traffic-cone orange. I think I got a B, but mostly because I was punctual.

So I became a Spanish teacher instead.

As a teacher, I wore a lot of sweater vests.

As a teacher, I wore a lot of sweater vests.

I loved everything about language, so after teaching for four years, I moved from California to Boulder, CO, to get a master’s degree in linguistics. I loved it so much that I decided to pursue a PhD in sociolinguistics in York, England.

But not long before I left, I went through a really difficult time. In a four-month period, I got divorced, lost two beloved family members, and watched my mom go through open-heart surgery (not literally, but you know what I mean). Also, the family dog died. Oh, and I gained almost 30 pounds.

I was so sad and so anxious and could not turn off my brain, so one day I went to the craft store, bought some paint and cheap brushes, and started painting. I painted this:

Typewriter.JPG

It wasn’t a masterpiece, but I LOVED PAINTING. I experienced that “in the zone” thing that runners talk about, except that I never experienced that as a runner because running is hard. I spent the whole summer packing and painting and crying and it was wonderful.

Long story short: I loved my doctoral programme, but after learning more about the world of academia, I decided it wasn’t for me. I came back, finished the degree, and went back to teaching.

And then something magical happened.

I had done a pet portrait for a friend while in England, and I told someone about it, and they wanted one too. And then I delivered it to them, and someone else saw it, and they wanted one too!

One of my first “unofficial” commissions

One of my first “unofficial” commissions

The wheels started turning . . .

WHAT IF I COULD PAINT ANIMALS FOR A LIVING?

In 2016, I took a half-time teaching job and started Nose Prints Art. I had no idea what I was doing. I made some flyers and ordered some business cards and ran all over Denver putting them up in pet stores and doggie day cares.

Then I signed up for a booth at the Hearing Dogs for the Blind Run Walk Wag 5k. I bought a cheap tent the night before and picked up a (really, really heavy) 8 foot table for free in an alley. My husband, dog, and four portrait samples came with me. Somehow, despite not having tent weights, my tent did not blow away AND someone ordered a portrait!

Baby’s first booth setup.

Baby’s first booth setup.

Long story short (again, oops): I got better, upgraded my tent, and met smart and talented artists and artisans who helped me find my customers and build my business.

In 2018, I left my half-time teaching job and have been painting pet portraits full-time ever since.

I PAINT ANIMALS FOR A LIVING. It’s the best, and sometimes the hardest, and I’m so grateful to be here.

Photo credit: Timothy Devine.

Photo credit: Timothy Devine.