How Dog Lovers Can Cope with Mercury Retrograde

The big cosmic news du jour is that Mercury turns retrograde today. Astrology buffs who faithfully check their horoscope forecasts daily, weekly, or monthly know...

Julia Szabo  |  Aug 20th 2010


The big cosmic news du jour is that Mercury is retrograde until March 17. Astrology buffs who faithfully check their horoscope forecasts know that Mercury is the planet of communication and transportation, and when it appears to travel backward, everything goes haywire.

Appointments are missed, computers crash, cell phones and important documents get misplaced, flights are delayed or canceled. Anything you expect to be speedy and efficient will seem to slow down to a frustrating pace, taking much more time than you anticipate. Mercury won’t turn direct again until March 17, so the next few weeks could prove challenging for everyone.

So, what does all this mean for dog owners? Mercury retrograde affects us in big and small ways. To avoid scheduling glitches and long, frustrating waits, confirm all appointments with dog walkers, sitters, boarding and daycare facilities, veterinarians, and groomers.

If you’re traveling and leaving Spot behind, have a plan B in place, just in case your dog caretaker is called away on an emergency. As long as you have backup – such as a friend or neighbor who knows your dog and has a set of your house keys – everything should be okay.

Mercury retrograde can play havoc with a dog owner’s peace of mind. But don’t fret – forewarned is forearmed. Here’s where you’ll need to be extra-careful. Be on your guard for malfunctions, and trust nothing mechanical, even low-tech objects you use every day. Collars can break and split open unexpectedly, or slip over a dog’s head; faulty hardware can cause your dog’s leash to disengage from his collar in the middle of a busy city street. This kind of nightmare obviously has tragic potential, and it’s more likely to happen during a Mercury retrograde period.

Here’s a safety tip that’s become quite trendy among savvy urban dog walkers who frequently walk muscular, hard-pulling dogs: Use a carabiner clip as a form of leash insurance. We’re not talking about those cheap, flimsy things made for hanging keys from your belt loop – we mean serious, reliable carabiner clips designed for use by mountain climbers and rope rescuers, with a screwgate that secures the clip tightly shut. (Petzl is a great resource.)

Here’s how to do it: Clip the carabiner to the O-ring attached to your leash’s clasp, then clip it to your dog’s collar, and screw the carabiner shut. This way, you’re not relying on an overworked leash clasp that may or may not decide to malfunction in the middle of your dog-walk. (Plus, the screwgate carabiner looks really cool; it’s serious gear that turns the daily dog-walk into an outdoor adventure – which it should be, anyway.)

If your dog isn’t microchipped, make sure his or her ID tag is firmly secured to his collar, and that it’s still readable (i.e. the lettering hasn’t all rubbed away with wear). Consider getting a collar that’s personalized with your phone number, or a high-tech ID tag device that helps reunite you with Spot if you should ever become separated.

Don’t tempt fate during a Mercury retrograde period. Now is not the time to leave your dog tied outside anywhere that you can’t keep a constant eye on him – you could come out and find he’s run off or been stolen. If your dog is on a complicated medication and/or supplement schedule, be absolutely sure you’ve understood all of your vet’s instructions so you won’t under- or overdose him. It helps to post the instructions in your kitchen for easy reference.

Even less life-or-death matters are affected by Mercury’s backward transit, so check your dog food supply, especially if it’s a hard-to-find brand, or one that needs to be ordered online. Have a plan B for dog food too, because what if the brand you normally use is recalled? You don’t want to be left high and dry, because home cooking for the hound will slow you down even further now that you’re coping with all these other irritating delays in your life. Bring along extra poop bags on your dog walks, and stuff them into two different (ideally zippered) pockets, just in case they fall out somewhere along your route. Things tend to spill during these retro periods, so take your time and proceed with caution when filling or emptying large water bowls, or handling large quantities of kibble.

Going on a trip with Spot? Leave early, allow for extra travel time, and arm your car’s interior with blankets, towels, and odor remover just in case Spot barfs while you’re in transit. Remember, Mercury slows down travel, and nothing interferes with a journey quite like a car-sick canine!

On the upbeat side, Mercury retrograde is an excellent time to look back over areas of our lives that need to be addressed, says Susan Miller, author and creator of the hugely popular Astrologyzone. Now’s your chance to organize your dog’s medical and ID records, for instance, and keep them in a clearly-marked folder so they’re ready when you need them — such as in the event of an emergency evacuation. If your dog takes medications or supplements that need to be ordered online, survey your supply to make sure you have everything on hand, and re-order if you don’t.

Mercury goes retrograde several times each year. See a schedule of retro periods and helpful hints on coping with this frequent phenomenon in other areas of your life.

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