It was an ordinary late afternoon. The big white van brought Peppy home from puppy playtime, but she wasn’t ready for the day’s fun to end. She grabbed her frisbee and enticed me outside. I was having fun and she was having fun – all over the yard, frisbee fun – when she slipped and fell after a catch. That had never happened before. We headed inside, where her panting was extreme. Her eyes didn’t look right and she was salivating excessively. I tried to control my panic, draping her with wet kitchen towels and gently soothing her (after frantically googling “dogs and heat stroke”). Within 15 minutes her breathing had settled, and mine began to as well.
Later that night, after nerves had calmed, we talked.
“I threw the frisbee too many times this afternoon,” I began. “I’m so sorry, Pep. I didn’t mean to push you too hard.”
“This afternoon was scary,” she admitted.
“For me too,” I agreed. “But even scarier for you.”
“It’s hard to slow down when you’re having fun,” she reflected. “It’s hard to know when you’re having too much fun.”
“Yes. But I’ll be more careful tomorrow,” I assured her. And I thought about how life is the near neighbor of death for all creatures.
(My husband suggests that this line of thought is an overreaction, in keeping with the tendency of my thoughts toward mortality and disasters, but I stand by both my generalized and specific anxieties.)
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VERY IMPORTANT INFORMATION from The Dogington Post on heat stroke in dogs: http://www.dogingtonpost.com/how-to-treat-and-possibly-save-overheated-dog/