Rain and Dogs

Two black dogs chased each other around on the Evanston Dog Beach Sunday, kicking up sand and splashing lake water about. The light blue lake water lapped gently on the shore and sparkled in the bright sunlight.

This perfect-for-dog-walking fall weather will not continue forever, unfortunately. According to weather.com, this week in Evanston will be cloudy and rainy, with lows in the upper 30s. Most of the dog owners interviewed Friday and Sunday said the rain and cold will play an important role in how much their dog will be walked during the coming days and months.

“We don’t like the rain,” said Susan Avril, 40. She often walks with her 4-year-old daughter, Lydia, and 6-year-old Samoyed, Beertje, to do errands. “I guess it’s us – we more take the car when it rains,” she said. Still, Avril said when it is raining, she takes Lydia to school and back, since it is only a few blocks.

Patricia Seifer, 61, agreed. “If it’s raw – if it’s 30 degrees and cold and rainy – I’m not as thrilled to walk as much,” she said about walking her mixed-breed dog, Ophelia. But, “I still walk her because someone has to,” she said.

The dog owners themselves do not like taking walks in bad weather, but some said that their dogs do not either. “If it’s raining, she doesn’t want to go out,” said Patricia’s friend, Joan Zurakov, 58, about her Border Collie mix, Bella.

Similarly, Charlie Madigan, 62, said about his Black Face Cur, Rip Van Winkle, “He doesn’t like the rain – it gets in his ears and he’ll shake it out. But he’ll still get out and he’ll let you know he’s sick of this, you know, and turn around and want to go back home.”

Madigan said, “We walk him in the neighborhood – we live down in South Evanston, by St. Francis Hospital. First thing in the morning he has to go out. After I get home from school and my wife gets back from school, at about four o’clock we walk him again.”

“He gets walked two times a day, no matter what the weather is or what time of year,” said Madigan. But, he continued, “He hates it in the summer because he gets very tired and he has to sit.”

The Illinois hot and humid summer is an obstacle for Susan Avril’s white, fluffy dog, as well. Since his breed originally was used to herd reindeer in cold climates, Beertje is not well equipped to survive the summer, she said.  “In the real heat, in the humidity, he doesn’t walk. He’d rather be inside and we do, too,” she said.

Avril also said that when Beertje is not walked, “it makes me anxious. I think it makes him more depressed,” she said. “Sometimes he’ll grab his toy and try to get you to play with him. Sometimes he just lays and looks unhappy.”

Madigan’s dog behaved similarly, he said. “If you’re late taking him out for a walk he’ll come and look at you. He stares at you and makes some noise like it’s time to go, and you have to pay attention because he will go to the bathroom someplace.”

Though bad weather makes dog walking less enjoyable for the dog and the owner, Joan Zurakov said that it is important to keep it up. “You walk them as much in the winter as you do in the fall because their need to exercise and go pee doesn’t change with the weather,” she said. “A dog’s gotta do what a dog’s gotta do.”

1 Comment

  1. barbara says:

    i LOVE that you met charlie madigan, one of the all-time great characters of fairly recent chicago newspapering history. much to learn from that dog-walker, i assure you……

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