By: Elizabeth DePompei
News & Tribune
CLARKSVILLE, IN (NEWS & TRIBUNE) - Rope, a rescue basket, trained firefighters and a whole lot of sweat — that's how Buddy, an 11-year-old-or-so flat-hair retriever, made it out of Lapping Park on Monday.
Buddy was at the park with his human family — his mom Patty Daniel and Daniel's daughter Bryana (better known as Breezy) Dowell. Daniel wanted to get Buddy some exercise so he could drop a few pounds, and Dowell figured Lapping Park's shade would make the late-spring heat more bearable.
It wasn't long before Buddy looked worn out, but Dowell said he kept chugging along, even venturing down the cliff side to the creek. But the older, less-than-active dog was no match for Monday's temperatures, which reached the high 90s. When a panting Buddy plopped down at the bottom of a 20 to 30-foot cliff next to the creek and refused to move, Dowell called longtime friend Clarksville Fire Department Chief Brandon Skaggs.
Skaggs soon showed up to help save the day. But with Buddy weighing more than 100 pounds, and with the challenges of the terrain, it would prove to be a rescue mission for more than just one firefighter.
So Skaggs called in his friends — the Clarksville Fire Department rope rescue crew. A group of about seven firefighters hauled equipment from the parking lot to Buddy's location and set up a highline rope rescue (picture a zip line with a rescue basket attached). While Buddy waited at the bottom, firefighters gave him water.
A little over an hour later, and Buddy was safely back on higher ground. Skaggs said the Wooded View Golf Course inside the park provided golf carts to get Buddy back to the car and to help haul the rescue equipment.
Dowell checked on Buddy later that night, and to no surprise, he was fast asleep. By Tuesday morning, he seemed to be doing just fine.
But the incident is a timely reminder that pets, like humans, can be worn down by oppressive heat. Skaggs said it's important to know your pets limitations and to make sure they stay hydrated when outdoors.
Veterinarian Justin Johnson from the Ridgeview Animal Clinic in New Albany echoed that message.
"I know when it kind of gets warm outside everyone wants to go roam with their dog or take them outside, but you want to make sure you're not pushing them past their limit," Johnson said.
If your pet is a couch potato all winter (or even all year), you should slowly acclimate the pet to more exercise and activity, he added.
Short breaks (10 to 15 minutes) and shade are also important to allow pets to cool down. And Johnson said even if the dog is inactive while outside in high heat, owners should still offer water and shade and be on the lookout for signs of heat exhaustion.
Dowell said Buddy obviously isn't ready for a day of the Great Outdoors, a lesson she and her family will remember. They'll also remember the fire department's rope rescue crew.