Uh oh, here comes the rain again and your dog says no to ‘walkies’

Eight-month-old Lexi (A506491) spends some time relaxing after a rainy-day game of “Find the Treasure” in the Adoptions Office. Lexi is ready for her forever home at Pasadena Humane.

It never rains in Southern California, or so I’ve been told. In the winter of 2019 when I traveled here from the East Coast for a couple of interviews at Pasadena Humane, I was greeted with torrential storms. They said, “It never rains like this.”

After I moved to Pasadena in the summer, I thought they were telling the truth. But now, as I’ve learned from personal experience, it does rain like this. And from folks who have lived here a while, I’ve learned it used to rain a lot in the winter.

At the moment, we find ourselves in the midst of both a drought and a flood in Southern California. Go figure.

I learned this week, according to rules established decades ago, most California reservoirs are required to release water in the winter to make room for potential storm runoff. Given changing weather patterns and scientific advancements that make it easier to forecast major storms, a couple of reservoirs are experimenting with adjusting the amount released based on weather predictions, which allows more water to be retained to help us through the dry times.

The reason I mention this is because it reminds me so much of what is happening at Pasadena Humane and shelters across the country. We are changing many decades-old practices based on scientific advancements that are changing what we know about best ways to help the animals in our shelters and communities. I will write more about this later.

For those of you who are more interested in what to do immediately with your pets given all the rain — rather than long-term solutions to our drought and homeless pet population problems — let me share a few ideas.

Dogs are notoriously opinionated when it comes to rain. While some dogs love being wet, most would prefer to avoid it altogether. Also, a dog’s hearing is much more sensitive than ours, and the sound of rain may make some dogs uncomfortable. The same goes for cats, who may hide.

My dog Sueshi used to be accustomed to the rain when we lived in Virginia. But now, like me, she is spoiled by our mostly beautiful weather.

When it first started to rain a few weeks ago, Sueshi and I were shocked and reluctant to go out. At first, even with treats, she cut the walks short, which was fine by me. I pulled out her snow pants and parka to keep her dry, which she appreciated (note to self: get some doggy rain gear…maybe even a doggie umbrella).

As the rain continued, we both became re-acclimated. Sueshi was happy to go out dressed only in her collar…back to her long strolls, playing in streams of water, and generally having a jolly time. Our outings were followed by a good blow dry. Sueshi loves the hairdryer.

When it’s raining, you need indoor activities to enjoy with your pet. Here’s one of Sueshi’s and my favorites:

  • Snuggle and Chill: We enjoy cozying-up on the couch under a blanket, keeping warm together.

Less snuggly pets might appreciate more fun and games:

  • Learn New Tricks: Engage your pet in an impromptu training session.
  • Find the Treasure: Hide pieces of your pet’s favorite treat and let them find it.
  • Chase the Bubbles: Non-toxic children’s bubbles provide great entertainment for dogs and cats. Your cats will love catnip-scented bubbles available online.
  • Figure it Out: Keep your pets’ minds engaged and tummies happy with puzzle toys or treat dispensers.

I hope these tips help you and your favorite friend stay happy during the Southern California rainy season (yes, there is one).

For more rainy-day ideas and safety tips, pasadenahumane.org

Dia DuVernet is president and CEO of Pasadena Humane.

This blog post originally appeared as a column in the Pasadena Star-News on January 13, 2023.