Nope, it isn’t always gloomy in Ithaca. We average 154 sunny days a year (all between May and September).
Seattle, with a reputation for clouds and rain, averages 151 sunny days a year.
My dog Honey has dozed a lot lately. Is the unrelenting cloudiness bringing her down? Or am I just seeing her through my own oh-my-dog-if-I-don’t-see-the-sun-I’m-gonna-die eyes?
In other words, do dogs get SAD?
Weather Affects Dogs
I’ve never seen studies about how dogs feel about weather. After all, they can’t answer questionnaires. And you can’t put a rainstorm inside an MRI machine.
But I walk Honey in all kinds of weather. And I’ve noticed a few things.
Honey loves to splash in puddles. But she’s not crazy about walking in the rain.
She’ll go without complaining. But we always cut the walk short and make it up with indoor games.
Sure, it’s just as cloudy on a snowy day as when it’s raining. And snow is nothing more than rain at a colder temperature. But snow brings out Honey’s sense of fun.
She loves to break new trails and roll around making snow pup angels.
Honey is especially lively when the snow is still falling. I suspect that the snow’s motion in the air triggers something in animals who evolved to respond to motion.
Wind alone doesn’t seem to have a huge effect on Honey. But a light breeze on a sunny, crisp, fall day brings out the nonsense in Honey.
Squirrels that Honey ignores all summer long become irresistible on the rare brisk, sunny days we have in October and November.
And the scents that drift past her nose capture Honey’s attention.
Honey wears a year-round fur coat. So she doesn’t worship a hot, sunny day like I do. But pair bright sun with a cool day and you’ve got a (rare) combination that brings out the best in Honey.
Of course, I don’t know how much of Honey’s joy is because of the weather and how much is her responding to my desperation to enjoy every second of the sun before it disappears behind the clouds for six months.
People Affect Dogs
I’ve heard that some of you have sweet dogs who respond gently when you feel bad.
I can’t relate. When I feel sick, Honey is a brat.
But that doesn’t mean my moods don’t rub off on her.
With winter solstice past, I’m looking for daylight. But I can’t tell the difference yet. And I’m struggling to seek out light in a place wreathed in gloom where it looks like the sun is setting at 3 p.m.
That is, if we could even see the sun.
So is Honey affected by the gloomy weather with day after day of dark skies? Or is Honey affected by me being affected by the gloomy weather?
I’ve asked her. But she’s not telling.
Your Turn: Does your dog seem to be affected by the weather? Or do you think they’re affected by how you’re affected by the weather?