Lucky dog showed up just in time

By John Toth / Editor and Publisher

The little black Yorkie mix’s head popped up outside, under my office window, and my dogs started barking. I hadn’t seen this one before and went outside to see what was going on.

Dogs who get loose tend to explore the neighborhood until the owners start looking for them. This one was new, at least to me.

And he was in trouble. He could not walk, and was gasping for air and panting very heavily. He tried to pull himself off the ground on his front legs, but kept rolling over, thrashing around. This little fellow was suffering from heat stroke and severe dehydration.

I was supposed to be out of town but decided to stay home. Had I left, the dog would have died right there, under my window.

He wasn’t trying to run away, and could not have, anyway. He was just trying to stay alive. I ran in the house and got some cool water, ice chips and a towel. I needed to bring his body temperature back down gradually. I carried him into the coolest room in the house and turned up the A/C.

The little fellow was looking at me and gasping for air. I kept rubbing him with cool water on my hands and held his head up.

My wife suggested taking him to the vet, but I was concerned whether he would survive the trip. I needed to stabilize him first. I didn’t know how long he had been out there in 98-degree heat.

He slowly started breathing normally. He still could not walk, and just laid there in the cool room, trying to regain his strength. What a gentle little dog, I thought, as he stared at me with those big eyes.

It’s days like this when dogs should not be outside for long periods. There was almost no breeze, which means that when it’s 98 degrees outside, that’s how warm it is in the shade. That’s too hot for pets, especially if they spend a lot of time in air-conditioned areas and are not used to the heat.

He calmed down and was able to sit up. I wiped him off with a dry towel. His tail even wagged a little. He was trying to figure out what happened. You almost died, little dog, that’s what happened.

I put his photo on Facebook, and one of my friends offered to adopt him if the owners didn’t claim him. My daughter also was in the running. But it was too soon for that. I just wanted the photo shared to see if the owner would show up.

I printed out a few flyers with his photo, and wife Sharon went around the neighborhood to see if we could find the owner. I also taped a flyer to the porch of a new neighbor’s house, and we posted the dog’s photo and his condition on the Lost Pets of Brazoria County website.

I really hoped that there was no internal organ damage or anything long-lasting. Heatstroke in dogs can cause unseen problems, such as swelling of the brain, kidney failure, and abnormal clotting of blood.

If you keep dogs in the yard or on back porch for extended periods, make sure they cannot escape and get lost. Check for loose, weak boards or holes in the fence and that gates are closed and latched.

Dogs that are good at escaping have no idea what to do afterwards. In this heat, unless they find water and a cool spot, they can get in a lot of trouble, really quickly.

The dog soon began exploring his new surroundings, the air-conditioned room of my son, and found a place to rest in one of the corners. That’s when the couple holding the flyer I had taped on the neighbor’s porch knocked on my door.

They were taking care of the dog while the neighbor was gone for a few days. It was a happy reunion, but first I had to make sure that the dog was not going to just be stuck back on the porch. He needed to be watched and kept in air conditioning, maybe even taken to the veterinarian to be checked out.

That’s what happened. The little fellow was taken to the vet. He was going to be O.K. He got lucky because I changed my mind about going out of town that day. Maybe it was just coincidence, or maybe not.

Now it’s time to plead with my own dogs to go outside. They prefer air conditioning - and it’s raining.