Pet Owners Are Barking Mad

, , , , , | Healthy | July 23, 2018

(The UK has been struggling with a heatwave. We’ve just finished a lunch rush and things are a little quieter. We just cleaning up the bar area while people finish up their food when my coworker and I hear the most awful, rasping panting from a dog entering the door. An older couple enter with their small dog, who is barely able to to walk in a straight line, and sit themselves down at a table. The woman approaches us.)

Woman: “Hi, are you still serving food?

Me: “Yes, ma’am. Would you like some water for your dog before you order? We want to make all of our guests to be comfortable.”

(I ask this because I’m increasingly concerned for the dog’s wellbeing — its panting is sounding significantly worse and it is drooling excessively for a small dog — but I don’t want to sound too nosey.)

Woman: “Oh, no, he’s fine. He’s just tired from our walk up [Popular Tourist Cliff Walk about 2.5 miles long]. We have some water, anyway.”

Me: “No problem, ma’am.”

(I take her order and serve their drinks quickly, watching the dog drink almost half a litre of water rapidly with no change in comfort. Just as I go to check on another table, the dog gets briefly to its feet to vomit violently, only to collapse into the vomit. I quickly try to keep my other customers, including children, calm while the dog’s owners seem oblivious to the severity of its condition, which is now clearly heatstroke.)

Woman: “Oh, dear, someone’s drank too quickly and is tired!” *to my coworker and myself* “Will you be dears and help us clean up?”

(My coworker goes to clean up the vomit while I swiftly go into the kitchen to explain the situation to my boss, who is also the chef.)

Me: “Hey, [Boss], I think we have a dog with heatstroke out there. Is there anything we can do? I’m willing to call [Friend of mine who is a veterinary nurse], if you’d like.”

Boss: “There’s not much we can do, [My Name]; it’s not our dog. Offer to call [Vet a few miles up the road] for them and try to get them to go there; otherwise, you just have to continue as normal. I’m sorry.”

(I go back out and do as I’ve been told to do, offering help as much as I can.)

Woman: “I’m sure he’s fine. We’ll consider it if he doesn’t improve by the time our food comes out.”

Me: “Okay, ma’am. No problem.”

(I try to continue with my other tasks while still watching for any change in the dog. A few minutes later, the food is ready and I take it out to them. The dog is still severely panting, and the owners have now taken the water away to stop him from vomiting it up again. I have to bite my tongue and say nothing, cleaning dirty glasses behind the bar so I can listen to them talking and be ready to do something if the dog ends up going into shock or a seizure.)

Woman: *to a concerned customer* “Oh, he didn’t make it to the top of [Cliff Walk], but luckily we had a deck chair with us and we used that as a stretcher to carry him there! It was beautiful up there, you know? The sun and the heat was warming up all of our old bones wonderfully! There weren’t any other dogs, either, so we had most of the cliff to ourselves! It really was fantastic.”

(The couple left with their dog after an agonisingly long time eating their food, with all of us encouraging them to go to the vet again before they left. Several hours later when my shift ended, I went to the vets to pick up some wormers for my own pets only to find out the couple hadn’t come in. It wasn’t until the next morning my friend texted me to let me know they ended up coming in during the night. They had found the dog unresponsive in its own vomit again shortly after coming back to their caravan after visiting friends. The poor little thing died of heatstroke less than an hour later. I can’t help wishing I could have done more, and that the owners had not been so stupid as to take their dog for a walk in that heat.)

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