Last week in the late afternoon, my family and I heard a commotion coming from the bike path that runs along the arroyo behind our house. I peered over the fence and saw a crying mom with two young boys on bikes. They were standing around an older white lab that was lying on the ground panting furiously. As soon as I saw her purple tongue and how hard she was struggling to breathe, I knew this girl was suffering from heatstroke. I ran to get an AutoDogMug with water in it, hopped our fence and yelled for my family to bring me a wet towel.
We gave their pup water immediately as we tried to figure out the fastest way to get her help. The mom’s car was parked less than a mile away, but this sweet dog could not move on her own. Miraculously a man working at one of the shops across the arroyo heard the distress cries. We watched as he ran down the steep bank of the wash, and across a mossy waterfall while pushing a wobbly wheelbarrow to help us. Mom and my son picked up the dog and put her in the wheelbarrow, and we covered her with the wet towel. After quickly assessing our options, we decided getting the dog to mom’s car was going to take too long. So, while mom ran west to get her car, the man with the wheelbarrow and I ran east a quarter mile up the bike path to the closest veterinarian.
The whole time we were running, I was telling this beautiful girl whose eyes were locked on mine, to “stay with me.” Someone saw us running toward the vet and called to tell them there was a wheelbarrow with an emergency headed their way. We got her to their front door just as the dog’s eyes were rolling back in her head. The staff dropped everything to work on her, as my family and I sat with two small scared boys, so that their mom could be with her eleven-year companion. The vet came out later to thank us for helping and said that the dog would have died if we hadn’t acted so quickly.
I’m so grateful we were all there that day to help. I knew what the signs of heatstroke were because I’ve researched and written about it so much for Highwave, in support of their life saving AutoDogMug. The high in our city at the time they were walking was 84 degrees and mom had only been on the path for a half-mile. I’d not have guessed that things could go south so quickly under those circumstances.
I heard from the mom today. Their dog's life was in jeopardy for much of the week that followed our encounter, even losing use of her back legs for a period. Thankfully she is slowly getting back to a healthy state. Friends, it’s imperative to carry water for your dog, EVERY time you go for a walk. Also, checking the pavement temperature is as important as checking the air temp. A 77-degree air temp can equal a pavement temp of 125 degrees. At 125 degrees, skin destruction can occur in 60 seconds! Always check the asphalt by pressing the back of your hand firmly against it for 7 seconds. If you can’t do so comfortably, it’s too hot for your dog.
You can learn more about how to have a safe summer with your pets here.