I felt it one morning. It wrapped around me just like a blanket that you lose for a year, only to find it again just when you need it most. This blanket makes most others cold but it brings the warmest of feelings to me. It was the first wind of fall. The chill wind, the dew on the fallen leaves, and the slight smell of the changing foliage. The waters have become chilled, yet still swimmable and enjoyable. The dog is happy now that the heat of summer has yielded and he can exercise more vigorously without needing to drink water every mile.
This time of year also means that certain illnesses will be coming around in the animal hospitals. For horses, the dog days of summer will include some cases of Potomac horse fever. As we get closer to fall and the leaves drop off the trees, the time of red maple toxicity will be upon us. As the temperatures start to fluctuate more and more, the cases of colic tend to be consistently rolling in. Leaving horses and looking at cows we see similar problems: displaced abomasum cases are common at this time of year. I always felt that cows handle this weather change better than horses because cows tend to prefer the colder months as their high metabolic output results in more heat production. That being said, we have had fluctuating temperatures as of late. Keeping an animal’s body constantly adapting to temperatures does add stress and can result in more metabolic diseases.
Fall is one of my favorite times to be outside with dogs. There is something about the backdrop and fall colors contrasting with a dog’s coat color that makes me happy and brings about lots of happy memories. I fell in love with watching the black fur of a Labrador of he glided over the leaves. I now watch the black and tan fur of my dog with that same love as he pushes his nose into every leaf pile and every rotting log. The dew on the morning leaves soaks my shoes and reminds me that I should just wear my barn gum boots for these morning hikes. Memories arise of hiking through deep leaves and jumping into waters that are transitioning from summer warmth to winter frigidity. The water feels best this time of year, once your body adjusts, of course. Those first few breaths remind you that you are living. The curious and skeptical looks from the neighbors confirm that sometimes only those experiences that really allow you to feel nature are worthwhile.