The above image is of a bulldog in Northeastern Ohio who is suffering from the recent series of heat waves.
It is supposed to be a funny image. It’s cute, isn’t it?
Well, I don’t think it’s so much cute as it is a tragedy.
I live in a state adjacent to Ohio, where it also gets hot and muggy during the summer.
I have always had dogs that didn’t much like the heat at all. The golden retrievers, for example, always suffered a bit whenever the mercury rises above 75 degrees. If they were outside, they always solved this problem by diving in deep mud puddles or ponds.
Even though the golden boxer hated to swim, she would submerge herself in mud puddles to keep cool.
However, I do remember trying to get the dogs to lie down on some ice in the same way as this bulldog.
It may have kept them cool, but they weren’t about to sit on ice like some Atlantic salmon at a fish market.
Even in the most extreme heat, I don’t think most normal dogs like the texture of ice cubes, and they would avoid sitting on it at all costs.
This poor bulldog, however, has a very hard time keeping itself cool. Bulldogs– and all brachycephalic breeds– have issues dissipating heat. Dogs pant to cool themselves. Panting passes air over the mucous membranes in the back of the mouth, throat, and trachea, which causes the moisture on those membranes to evaporate. This evaporation cools the animal. Bulldogs and other dogs of this type have a harder time passing air over these membranes when panting. They have a lot of issues with their soft palates, and most bulldogs never have fully open airways at all.
So even though a bulldog is a single-coated dog, it suffers much more in the heat than a double-coated golden retriever, which has a relatively long muzzle and open airways.
That’s why this bulldog has plowed headlong into this pile of ice.
To some it may be cute.
But for those of us who understand dog anatomy a bit, it is something quite sad.
We have bred bulldogs to have such extremely flatten faces that they really can’t function in the heat. Now, it is true that dogs are less tolerant of heat than humans are, and it is silly and quite dangerous to expect even a normal dog to be happy in 95 degree heat. However, through very silly breeding practices, we have further hampered the bulldog’s ability to cool itself.
And I don’t find it all that funny.