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The dog days of summer

By By Buddy Bynum / editor
August 31, 2003
My little Maltese, Mr. Buttons, turns three years old in November and weighs in at almost seven pounds. He's grown since his initial puppy checkup at Dr. Buddy Shannon's Pet Services, where we discovered at the time he was about two pounds of hair and nine ounces of dog.
At the moment, after a visit last week to Bows and Toes Pet Grooming by Tonya Harwell, he's also the most gorgeous dog in the neighborhood. At least I think so. And I think he knows it.
His exceptionally soft and fluffy white hair is very nicely clipped and styled and clean. For the first time this summer, you can actually see his eyes, all bright and brown. He's healthy, a bundle of energy and fiercely protective of his home and yard. He also looks great because Tonya did a great job, which isn't unusual because she's been grooming dogs for about 16 of her 35 years on this earth. Professionally, she's been at it for about 8 years and has worked as a groomer for Shannon and other Meridian veterinarians, including Dr. A.G. Harrell and Dr. A.P. Carney Jr.
Cute as a …
Judging from a brief phone conversation the other day (I called to thank Tonya for making Mr. Buttons as cute as a, well, you know) I know she's well-suited to her profession of making dogs look prettier when they come out than when they came in.
Tonya eventually summoned the courage to open her own grooming shop, and by her own admission practically starved for the first year. Thanks to strong support from family and friends, she made it through and today is usually booked six or seven weeks in advance with as many as 15 dogs a day.
Over the phone line you could hear a little darling yapping in the background, undoubtedly telling Tonya how much she appreciated the fine haircut.
Tonya Harwell keeps her canine customers and their human partners happy with a combination of excellent skills and a good attitude, two things that work well in most any situation.
Here in the dog days of summer, a good grooming can make a dog look cool, but we owners must also make sure our pets stay cool. Heatstroke is special danger in summer; it's also entirely preventable.
I'm no vet, but I understand that heatstroke is an elevation of a dog's average body temperature beyond normal levels, which are usually in the 99.5 degrees to 101.5 degrees range. Once a dog's temperature reaches 104 degrees, the danger becomes very real.
The symptoms of heatstroke are progressive, vets say. Initially a dog pants, attempting to release heat. He becomes lethargic and begins to seek water and shade. Eventually the animal will start to stagger, possibly experiencing seizures or hypersalivation.
If prompt treatment is not received, an animal may slip into a coma and possibly die.
A veterinarian may attempt to lower an animal's temperature with a lukewarm bath, concentrating on the areas that have less hair, such as the abdomen, the ears or the pads of the feet. As the water evaporates, it cools the animal. If temperature does not decrease, more aggressive cooling measures are used, including fans, an IV or icepacks.
One word of advice from vets: Never leave your animal in a parked car. Even on a 75-degree day, the internal temperature of a car can reach 125 degrees because the sun's rays are magnified by the glass.
To help avoid heatstroke, make sure your pet has water and shade so they can regulate their own body temperature. Obviously, with air conditioning, that's a little easier with indoor dogs like Mr. Buttons. Good grooming helps, too.
Let's keep these little partners cool and safe for a long, long time.