Bulldog people know that bullies have issues with excessive heat, issues such as death. They are more susceptible even than other breeds and the definition of heat varies with them. I had gotten in the habit of taking Stella out on a walk when I got home from work, a way for both of us to relax.
Spring had grown old and the temperature was toying with 90 degrees F. Our walks were the only times that Stella was outside except for bathroom breaks. She was a trooper and completed our short 3/10 of a mile circuit in fine order every day.
I kept my eye on the temperature and one afternoon it hit 92. We took our walk, the usual circuit. Stella panted with her wide grinning mouth open and her lolling tongue yoyoing up and down, all very normal, but when we reentered the air-conditioned house, she flopped belly down on the cool linoleum and kept panting rapidly. About 30 seconds later, she threw up water.
Oh, no, I thought, I’ve killed Stella. And she’s not even my dog… technically. And it’s all because I think 92 degrees is not all that hot. Not for me, but it was for her. I ran into the kitchen, grabbed all the ice packs I could find, a bowl of cool water, and hand towels.
I plopped beside the panting Stella and shoved the water under her muzzle. She lapped up as much as she thought she needed. Her tongue was not the dangerous purple that the friendly internet contributors said to watch out for, but I imagined that it was. I placed a wrapped cold pack on the back of her head and slowly, repeatedly, ran another one down the full length of her spine.
It took about 10 minutes. I don’t really know because I was not focused on the clock. Stella’s breathing evened out, the rapid panting slowed, and she finally stood up and walked to her bed – fine and like nothing had happened. I put the towels in the wash, replaced the ice packs in the freezer, collapsed on my chair, and thanked God and thanked God and thanked God.
My son considered the whole episode no serious matter in hindsight. He would have had he been there.
I felt stupid and incompetent. I had violated the rule I always followed as a parent. What is the need of the child? Stella can’t read a thermometer. She can’t prepare for bad weather. She doesn’t buy her own food. We do all those things. My limits are not the issue. Hers are.
The Lord does not push us beyond our limits. He is a good Father. But we are not always so wise. We push ourselves to accomplish whatever and drag others along faster than they can go, then wonder why they collapse under the pressure.
Go for walks. Invite others. But keep an eye on the temperature.