Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Canine Swamp Cooler

With the first real heat gripping the Northeast this week, it's time to share my plans for a canine swamp cooler. With shade cloths and tarps (and a bit of tree-provided shade) it's relatively easy to keep dogs comfortable in a (completely open) van at 80 degrees - when it gets above that you have to make the decision that a) it's too hot to work dogs today or b) take some extra steps to keep your dogs cool while they're waiting to play.

For the past few years I've ginned up a swamp cooler of sorts - it works! Here's how I set it up:

I freeze (or if I'm traveling I pack frozen) water jugs - the 3 liter bottles from poland spring are the perfect size to stay frozen in my large 5-day cooler and then thaw slowly over a few hours out of the cooler. Yes, they take 2-3 days to freeze completely in my large dog food freezer, but its long been my habit to fill any empty freezer space with water bottles so I have plenty ready for the purpose.

In front of each dog (Murphy and Teller anyway) I put down a layer of paper towels to catch the condensation from the bottle, place the bottle on the paper towels, then wrap a ball bungee around the water bottle. I run the bungee under the crate door and secure it to the outside of the crate with a caribeaner. This keeps the ice in place.

Next, I position a fan* to blow over the ice bottle (I use a crate bowl holder for this purpose). Ideally, I want the center of the fan to be about 3" above the top of the bottle.

Are you comfy Woo?
I've found that after an agility run (warm-up, run, cool-down), Teller will go from panting to completely comfortable after about 10 minutes of fan time. He'll come out for his second run fresh and rested.

*I love these fans! They were actually a Walmart special - they run on AC or DC power (so I can plug them into my car outlet) and they have internal rechargeable batteries that charge on AC or DC. They also can run on 4 DD batteries when you're off-grid and the internal batteries run down.

NOTE: Kipling is 'special' and will drape himself over the frozen bottle - happy as a lark like a mother hen with her eggs. I have not found the need to put a fan over his bottle. much as he likes cold (or dislikes heat) he will go out of his way to put distance between himself and a frozen bottle so the 'swamp cooler' is perfect for him..

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