Friday, May 20, 2005

Lassie, what's wrong girl?

Honestly, I wasn't trying to kill the dog.

Last Saturday, the wife and I took a little trip with Crank (my nickname for the baby) to Target. On the way we stopped off at Don Pablo's for a bite to eat. We were gone two hours. The temperature was 88 degrees.

When we returned, I realized that I had let the dogs out just before leaving and forgot to bring them back in. This is not the sort of thing I do, more the wife's area of expertise, a woman who can only find her cellphone by calling it and tracking down the ringing.

I went out in the backyard and there was Boodreaux, lying by the door. I wasn't worried about the heat, despite the fact that Boo is a Siberian Husky and by definition the worst dog to have in the sun. He grew up in Texas and never had a problem, despite being the product of generations of selective breeding resulting in an animal with the inner heat retention of a thermos and a burning desire to hump anything that moves (much like me in college, only without the heat part). He wandered inside and headed for the water bowl.

However, I couldn't find Cayman. My first thought was that she had crawled under the fence since she is a small dog with short hair and with another baby on the way, I myself have thought about making a break for it. I walked around the pool cage calling her name and she finally emerged from her hiding place. She had laid down under a bush next to the air conditioner. Smart little thing that she is, she had been drinking the air conditioner run-off.

She stood there and looked at me. I called her again. She stood there. I went and picked her up and brought her in the house. I set her down, she took one step and fell over. Now, at this point, panic begins to set in. My first thought was that she had drank bad water. I called the vet and told them what had happened and they said to bring her in immediately. Now that, in and of itself, was not surprising as the vet always says to, "Bring her in immediately." Vet's are even more reluctant to diagnose over the phone than people doctors.

When I got to the vet, still under the impression that we were dealing with a possible sick stomach, I was greeted by the technician as if I was an extra on E.R. She snatched Cayman from me and rushed her to the back. I waited, wondering if they were trying to get her to vomit, pumping her stomach or forcing her to watch American Idol or something. I started to get worried because the technician seemed so concerned but then I remembered that it was my seventh trip to the vet this year, two of which involved surgery. My business is the backbone of their practice. If I lose an animal they probably don't get a Christmas bonus.

After about 10 minutes, the doctor came out: heat stroke. Cayman had a temperature of 106 and it was 60/40 on her recovery. Dr. Danielson said that usually, when a dog has a temperature that high, it's already in a coma. Then he talked about heat "cooking" the brain and liver and kidney damage. Suddenly, I was in Terms of Endearment and I didn't even have Flap there to comfort me.

I'l spare you the long details and say that Cayman made a full recovery. The thing that surprises me the most about the whole scary episode is, although I left the dogs out by mistake, I wouldn't have balked at the idea of doing it on purpose. Really, they're dogs. They should be able to take 88 degree heat for two hours, especially when they have shade and water! If you were to put a group of dogs in the desert, I would be willing to bet that the first one to drop would be the one with "Siberian" in his name!

Oh well, live and learn. I got a lesson in canine thermodynamics, the vet got a new wing on the hospital.

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