Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Heat Exhaustion...in November

Not all of my stories will be from substituting teaching. We have 2 Labrador retrievers, Coco and Sadie, and they keep our life interesting. Like the time that they ate our ottoman. Or the time they shredded all of our DVD collection. Not a single DVD survived. But I digress. To provide a little background, these dogs are about 70 lbs each and spoiled to the point that think they are house cats. They also have boundless energy - the vet informed me that labs typically stay in 'puppy' phase for about 3 years, which means that we have about 2 years to go with Sadie. I did not do my research before we got them.

I have found that the best way to manage their energy level is to take them running. I mean, these dogs have trained for half marathons with me. On this particular day, I took them to the bike trails at Memorial Park and let them run off leash. One of the perks about working part-time is that you get to go to the park in the middle of the day when no one else is around. After about 30 minutes they look pretty exhausted, so I load everyone back in the car, but not before they find a mud puddle to roll around in. Now they are covered in toxic black sludge up to their heads as I transport them home.

When we arrive home, Coco stumbles getting out of the car. I hose both dogs off, but once inside Coco's back legs keep going out from under her and she cannot walk straight. I immediately think, "Oh My God, she has hip dysplasia." I have researched titanium hip replacements for dogs and they are not cheap. I begin envisioning her like one of those dogs on television with wheels for hind legs.

I call the vet and explain what has happened, and then carry her back into the car to preserve what is left of her legs. Once we arrive at the vet, Coco has made a miraculous recovery. Walking into the vet's office she shows no signs of the hip problems she displayed a mere 10 minutes ago. She even manages to bark incessantly at two kittens on display in the lobby for about 5 straight minutes.

The vet finally calls us into her office. After thoroughly inspecting Coco's hind legs she says, "Her hips actually look really good. But I think that she may have a slight case of heat exhaustion." I should mention here that I am not an irresponsible pet owner. The day was overcast and could not have been warmer than 80 degrees or so, but it was humid. The vet assures me that Coco will make a full recovery and on our way out the door, Coco, who has been drinking water the entire visit, vomits all over the floor. A lot. The vet decides that they should keep her for observation just in case, and they hook her up to a dog IV.

$200 later (and I think that is after our 'frequent visitor' discount, as we go to the vet for everything - you might say that we are over reactors), I pick Coco up after a full day of fluids and rest. I think that we both learned a valuable lesson that day - Coco learned not to overdo it, and I learned that heat exhaustion is possible in November in Houston.

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