When I woke up this morning at 3:30am to get ready for work, I was greeted by my happy, silly, and slightly tired dog. I sluggishly got ready for work, knowing I’d be off early and could come home and rest. Then I remembered how my roommate and I agreed that we were going to take our dogs for a hike this afternoon. We’ve been busy in the past few weeks and they both haven’t been walked enough.
After getting home from work I put on shorts, laced up my shoes and drove the four of us to a nearby trail. It was in the 80’s with a light breeze, beautiful outside. We happily started our hike down a very steep hill, firmly reminding the dogs not to pull us down the hill. We chatted of the guys we were seeing, talking a mile a minute while the dogs pranced around with joy.
I didn’t know that less then 40 minutes later I would be sprinting back up the hill by myself to get water from the car.
I didn’t know that I would have a dog who was overheating and getting worse by the second.
I didn’t know that once I got the water, got back to the dog just as fast as my legs could carry me just to find my roommate, with a look of horror on her face.
“She started crying a little bit ago” she said.
I did know that crying was a very, very bad sign. She only cries when she’s really sick.
I didn’t know that I would beckon her into a nearby brush just to watch her collapse and bury her head in the weeds.
I sat next to her, helpless. I found myself in a situation we all have to face someday; realizing she might die right here, right now.
I didn’t know what to do.
I decided to send my roommate home. I gave her the keys to my car.
“Get more water.” I said. “We’ll wait until she can cool off enough to walk.”
I started going through the symptoms of heat stress: vomiting, refusal of water, severe panting. Her paws seemed to be hurting her too – it seemed they were hurt from the ground or the rocks.
I found myself pouring the little water we had left into the cap and giving her little cap fulls at a time.
I watched her painfully lift her head from the brush to grab a drink – then bury it down again.
I knew two things for sure: I had no way of getting her up the two huge hills that separated us from my car. I knew she wasn’t going to walk at all. One of two things was going to happen. Either we’d wait until she cooled off and regained her strength, or she would overheat on the trail and I’d watch her die.
Just as my roommate was getting ready to leave, she saw a young family approaching us with their dog. She told them about our situation, and asked if they knew of anyway to get a car on the trail.
The man looked at me, sitting in the bushes with my dog.
His wife turned to him, “you can carry her, right?”
I sat there shocked before I said, “oh, no. I can’t let you do that. She’s 70lbs.”
“Sure I can.” He said. “No problem.”
I watched him immediately walk over to my dog.
His only was concern was if she would be friendly to a strange man.
I told him her name, and despite my best efforts I couldn’t say anymore.
I saw this man pick my dog up and cradle her over his shoulder. He didn’t complain about her weight; all he said was how she was such a great dog.
I watched this man carry my baby a half a mile up two huge hills. He took two short breaks and pet and loved my dog the entire time.
I found myself supporting her shoulders as it got really steep.
At the top of the hill, I watched him carry her past the summit to the water fountain. There I saw his son filling up the water fountain with fresh water for my dog.
I watched her cool off quickly and her spirits immediately lift. I stood there for a few moments before I realized I didn’t even know this man’s name – the man who could have just saved my dog’s life.
I had enough sense to ask his wife for their name and address to send him a thank-you note.
I thanked them and they left.
I gathered my sick dog into my car and brought her home. It took her a long time to get from the car to my apartment.
After a call to the vet, it seems her heat stress was fading and he thought she would be okay. His only concern was that she injured her paws and he wanted to see how she did in the morning.
About halfway into our walk I noticed Tahn was getting hot and tired. She’s a black dog, and it was a warm day. I was worried the ground was too hot for her paws, but when I touched it with my fingers, I felt it was fine. Apparently it was not. My roommate’s dog also seemed to have hurt paws and was very hot too – but, unlike Tahn, she didn’t lay down and refuse to walk. Tahn went from needing a little break to refusing to walk very quickly. I knew I needed to act fast, because heat stroke happens fast and once a dog (or human) has heat stroke, they need immediate medical attention. Knowing we were a good half-mile in, I knew that was not an option. My priority was to keep her cool. I didn’t realize at first that her paws were hurting her too.
The man and his family also had a dog – a dog who walked further on the same trail as Tahn and also had a thick coat. He seemed fine and his paws weren’t burnt. I really don’t know what happened.
I do know one thing for sure : that man – Bobby – could have very well saved my dog’s life. It’s possible she would have not gotten heat stroke but her paws are injured enough that she probably couldn’t have walked the hill for few hours. We would probably still be in the bush.
I don’t really know what else to say but this: during this whole ordeal this afternoon I couldn’t stop thinking about how last night I got up to use the restroom and found Tahnee laying on the ground next to my bed, on the side I was laying on. She wasn’t laying on her plush bed a few feet away. Instead, she was laying as close as she could to the bed as possible; her paws under the frame. I remember looking down at her and thinking, “Wow, this dog loves me.”