Very warm weather can pose hazards to dogs, but can also prove therapeutic. During the nation’s hottest month on record in July, viral stories of the trials of several canines have evoked all kinds of human emotions from inspiration to terror to anger.
In case you missed them, let me share...
Sometimes images have incredible reach. The photo showing dog owner John Unger cradling his 19-year old German Shepherd mix “Schoep” in the unusually warm waters of Lake Superior in Bayfield, Wis. has been “liked” on Facebook by more than 300,000 people and shared more than 200,000 times.
The photographer, Hannah Stonehouse Hudson - owner of Stonehouse Photography, describes the photo taken in late July:
This 19 year old [Schoep] being cradled in his father’s arms [July 31] in Lake Superior. [Schoep] falls asleep every night when he is carried into the lake. The buoyancy of the water soothes his arthritic bones. Lake Superior is very warm right now, so the temp of the water is perfect.
Duluth News Tribune provides even richer detail about this remarkable man-dog relationship, describing how Unger credits Schoep for saving his life after he fell into a depression and pondered suicide several years ago.
“To be honest with you, I don’t think I’d be here if I didn’t have Schoep with me (that night). He just snapped me out of it. I don’t know how to explain it. … I just want to do whatever I can for this dog...,” Unger told the Duluth News Tribune.
The warm water plays a crucial role in this touching story. Michigan State’s Coast Watch website indicates water temperatures have been in upper 60s near Bayfield. That may not sound warm, but it’s about 8 degrees F above normal and likely bathwater for a thick-coated pooch. (Air temperatures in Duluth, Minn. - the nearest city to Bayfield - have been the warmest on record this year).
Adding to the restorative power of Schoep’s nightly ablutions, all of the publicity for this aging dog has brought to bear new resources for healing his weary bones.
“After learning about the dog’s story, anonymous donors made it possible for Schoep to get the supplement glucosamine along with laser treatments to treat his arthritis,” the Duluth News Tribune reported.
The serene image of Schoep contrasts sharply with the travails of a bulldog named Bella Mae...
Roaming around her backyard pond in Blanchard, Oklahoma (near Norman) Bella Mae was ambushed by a porcupine July 29 in the scorching heat. The Animal Emergency Center of Norman said more than 500 quills penetrated the three-year-old bulldog - including “many” on her tongue.
“She was sedated and anesthetized immediately. After removing the quills, she was placed on antibiotics and pain medication,” the Animal Emergency Center said.
A CNN report said this kind of unusual dog-porcupine encounter may have been related to the heat. In the hot/dry conditions (high temperatures were around 105 the day of the incident), the backyard pond - a source of water - likely drew the porcupine to the location.
The dog’s trauma notwithstanding, there’s a happy ending to this horrifying story. The Animal Emergency Center posted a message from Bella on its Facebook page last week:
“I’m feeling much better, thank you all for your prayers and thoughts.... Bella”
While Bella overcame her wounds, a different bulldog tragically lost its life in the hot weather the same day. The Louisiana Tech mascot Tech XX died July 29 after suffering heatstroke the university said.
What makes this story so sad and maddening was that the death was entirely avoidable: an employee left the dog in the heat too long. The high temperature that day was 103 degrees (in Monroe and Shreveport, the closest weather stations to the university).
The university posted the following message from its caretaker, Dr. Patrick Sexton, describing the terrible circumstances surrounding the dog’s death. Here’s an excerpt:
Regretfully, I learned this morning that through negligence of an employee, Tech XX was left outside too long on Sunday evening and passed away from a heat stroke. That employee unfortunately chose to handle it the wrong way and attempted to cover it up. Due to this negligence, the employee is no longer employed by Sexton Animal Health Center.
For its part, here’s an excerpt from the University’s statement:
Louisiana Tech University was saddened to learn of Tech XX’s passing this past Sunday evening. He will be remembered for being a fan favorite and a symbol of the spirit of Louisiana Tech.