The following story is a finalist in the Tales of Summer Tails Photo and Story contest. The top three finishers will receive $500 in cash, as well as $2,000 in cash and supplies for their favorite shelter. Voting runs through September 8.
Before getting into why I like summer, here’s a little background about me. My name is Arvo Thomas Gardiner, but I’m mostly just called Arvo. If I get called all three of my names, I know Momma’s not very happy with me. I’m living my third summer right now, because I was most likely born sometime in May 2021. Being a rescue dog, my actual birthday is mostly a guess, but my two brothers and I were found in July 2021 by the edge of some woods in Holly Hill, South Carolina, and estimated to be two months old. We’re the only ones who really know where we lived or how we survived until then, and none of us is talking. All I know for sure is two nice rescue ladies took us in, then one brother got fostered by one family, and the other brother and I got fostered by my Momma.
Things I know about myself: I’ve been blind since birth, I’m a foster-fail (whatever that means), I have two dog sisters and two cat brothers, and I’m a mixture of American Bully, American Pit Bull Terrier, and Chow Chow, with a tiny bit of German Shepherd and some Supermutt thrown in to round things out. I like the sound of Supermutt, because it makes me sound like some kind of Super Hero of the dog world.
Soon after we were rescued, my one brother and I came to live in this house (supposedly just for a couple of weeks) with one really old big sister dog and one medium-aged big sister dog. It turned out we were here for almost three whole months before my brother finally got adopted by a family in upstate New York. He had to take a long transport ride to get there, and Momma gets to visit him when she goes to see my human stepbrother, because they live pretty close to each other. Our other brother turned into the same thing as me, a foster-fail, and he lives about an hour away from me here in SC.
Anyway, when my NY brother moved away, Momma sat down with my big sisters and the cats and asked if they’d like me to stay here. I don’t know if it was a unanimous vote, but I never left. (I honestly think it might have been a tie, with Momma as the tie-breaker, because I do have a tendency to chase the cats, so I’m pretty sure they wanted me gone.) Over the next few months, some other foster puppies came and went, until another one stayed like me. She has heart disease – daily medication, bi-annual echocardiograms, the whole bit – and Momma calls us her “medical problem children”. About three months after she moved in with us, making a family of four dogs, our oldest dog sister died, so we’re back to three again, which Momma says is barely manageable. But we’re finally starting to consider taking in more fosters, as long as they don’t have to live here too long. Oh, and one other thing: since February, I’ve had no eyes at all. They had to be removed in a big operation, because I had glaucoma and it was pretty painful. Honestly, I don’t miss them one little bit.
So, Summer. Like I said, this is my third one. I’ve had more summers so far than any other season, because of being born in May. And summers are the best! My older sister and my younger sister and I all have so much fun together. We have lots of fields to run in, and being blind doesn’t hamper my dog abilities hardly at all. I can run down a really steep incline into a nearby canal to play in the water with my sisters. I chase after them when they chase deer, but none of us will ever be as fast as a deer, so there’s no worry about any being caught. I admit to having a little trouble in our woods, because those trees sometimes block my way, but mostly I can figure out how to get around them. There’s so much to smell in the summer, too, and I’m especially good at smelling: flowers, weed flowers, raccoon and opossum tracks, coyote pee, deer poop, corn and soybeans, not to mention that I’m especially good at smelling out the treats Momma brings along on our walks.
Another favorite thing about summer is our deck. It’s gated so I can’t escape and get lost or hurt, and there’s a pet door so if I get cold sleeping on a comfortable couch in the air conditioning, I can go out and relax on my doggie hammock and soak up some sun. From the deck, I can easily bark at the neighbor cats who think that just because I can’t see them, they can trespass on my property. I especially like to try and figure out where all the hummingbirds are feeding; they visit us all summer long. I can hear their wings making little noises while they flit around from feeder to feeder, and in spite of not being able to see them, I like knowing they’re out there, enjoying the summer as much as I am. I’m also good at sniffing out the little anoles and sticky frogs who like to catch bugs on my deck, and even though I can’t see them, either, I can chase them because I have a good nose! In addition to our front pet door, there’s another one that opens into a spacious fenced-in backyard, where there’s nice cool grass to roll in, and shade under the trees. Sometimes I’ll even dig a hole back there as entertainment, but that’s usually one of the times when Momma tends to use all three of my names.
So there you have it. Out of the four seasons, summer is my favorite. Good thing, too, because it seems to be summer from April through November here in SC!