Service Dog Column: Summertime is tough for black dogs

Every Wednesday at 3:30 p.m., we try and have one of the staff be online at explore.org (Great Danes) to introduce you to one of our dogs.

Percy is one of our “Christmas litter.” They still are not ready for the falling-down lessons and are struggling with, “How am I to jump in the car door when I am so little?”

Don’t worry. Give them a few months, and they will be able to jump in the driver’s window (planned or unplanned) like your athletic cousin, Larkey. 

Born at 1.25 pounds, it seems like in 12 months they are pushing 150 pounds. Danes are luckily very trainable — because untrained they can resemble a 150-pound UFO. 

All our dogs are some variety of black and white. At this time of year, black needs mentioning. If you have any black dog, you need to be aware of how hot that dog can get in a very few minutes standing in the sun.

With any color dog, consider their four paws — never stop to talk to a friend in a parking lot, because the black surface of the “hot top” is hot … and will be until next October. 

In an emergency, I have used a white grocery bag or tin foil to cover their back. It does help, but not much. Black dogs and the summer sun are a bad combination, so be aware.

To keep our puppies in the shade, someone donated an actual 14-foot tipi. The process of putting it up was demoralizing, as “the book” (The Indian Tipi by Gladys and Reginald Laubin) says any good Native American woman can put up her tipi in about an hour.

Our timing is more like one woman — plus two men — in half the day. 

A well-established tipi is a marvel of organization. As there is a small fire in the middle, by tradition, you must enter and turn left. 

The fire-making supplies are tucked in on your left at the bottom angle of the tent. The cooking and food supplies are on the other side of the fire. The sitting/sleeping area is in the rear. It all does work.

Percy, his new owner and one of two shopping carts donated by Shaw’s (courtesy photo).

Along with the multitude of traditions, the book says that if an Indian woman wants a divorce, all she has to do is throw him out the door — the tipi is considered hers.

The triangular tipi remains a perfect solution to a temporary housing situation — with proper management.

The U.S. Army tried to duplicate the tipi but failed to consider some of the problems solved long ago by the native Indians.

Is there somewhere in Ipswich a couple of retired folk who could hammer together a tool shed for us? We have the nails, hammers, and wood…


Carlene White is founder and president of the non-profit Service Dog Project on Boxford Road in Ipswich. She trains and raises Great Danes to donate to the mobility impaired. Read more of her columns here.


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