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If It’s Summer …

If it’s summer … it must mean that Lilly suddenly is terrified to come inside, but only in the evening. How many years now has this pattern emerged? Five, six years?

Saturday, May 22, marks the first day this spring/summer season that Lilly suddenly acts like coming inside is the worst, most tortuous, and scary thing imaginable. And, me? I go from Terrific to Terrifying.

I hadn’t given it much thought, honestly. I called for Lilly to come inside, but she didn’t.

Usually that means, she is “busy” doing something else, so I walked outside and around the east end of the house to see what she was doing.

I wasn’t mad. I wasn’t impatient. I didn’t say a single word, and yet … there she was in the tall grass near the dog pen, writhing around like a worm. (The behavior is actually called “worming.”)

Lilly tucked her ears back. Her pupils were huge, and she squirmed and squirmed around, as I approached. (Maybe some day I’ll get some video of it.)

Ah, summertime … when Lilly freaks out.

I reached out to hold her collar so that she couldn’t worm her way down the hill, and she screamed. Outright, full-on screamed.

I did eventually get her inside that night, but I put the summer rules in place. Lilly can no longer go outside (except to the dog pen to potty) after dinner because getting her back inside is a beast.

My latest trick, when one of us forgot and let her out, involved walking with purpose toward the street with a leash in my hand … as if we were going for a walk.

I’ve only had to do it once so far, but it worked. I lassoed her and turned back toward the house, giving treats along the way inside the door.

Bets on if it’ll work a second time, if necessary?

Mayor of Stumped City

We’ve talked at length with our dog trainer and our behaviorist about this seasonal, recurring problem. No one can figure it out.

It’s entirely possible that Lilly just REALLY likes being outside in the summer, but I suspect it’s more than that.

And, if you’re thinking, “Just leave her outside,” I’ll only remind you that we live in a predator-heavy area. So, that’s not a safe option.

Roxanne Hawn

Trained as a traditional journalist and based in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, USA, I'm a full-time freelance writer for magazines, websites, and private clients. My areas of specialty include everything in the lifestyles arena, including health and home, personal finance and other consumer interests, relationships and trends, people and business profiles ... and, of course, all things pet related. I don't just love dogs. I need them in my life. Seriously.

Roxanne Hawn - June 2, 2010

Trust me, Candy. We’ve combed over all kinds of summertime changes, and I hate to say that we’re so boring that not much really changes around here. It still gets QUITE cold at night, so the house is rarely “hot.” So, I don’t think it’s a temperature thing.

It might have something to do with light quality or maybe sounds … but we even took down the wind chimes years ago, thinking that was part of the problem.

Candy Blakeslee - June 2, 2010

I was not fast enough…I was going to say air conditioning too. Is there anything else, in the house, that changes in the summer?

I know as it gets warmer, we just take off covers. However, Betsy and Norman can’t take off their fur…so we have to turn on the fan for them at night.

Roxanne Hawn - June 2, 2010

Good thought, Eric, but no … we don’t have a/c. At this altitude, our house just doesn’t get that hot.

Kerri Fivecoat-Campbell - June 2, 2010

Wow, Roxanne. That’s almost as bizarre as our Emma suddenly being terrified of the laundry. Who knows what dwells in their past that brings these things on.

Eric Goebelbecker - June 1, 2010

Air-conditioning in the house?

Roxanne Hawn - June 1, 2010

Indeed, that’s something we’ve looked into, and no one has ever found any evidence that’s what’s going on.

We’re pretty sure it’s behavioral because:
A) It only happens in the summer.
B) It only happens in the evening.
C) It goes away come fall.
D) It comes back each summer.

Susan - June 1, 2010

What you’re describing almost sounds like a seizure of some sort. What does your vet say?

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