Keeping Molossers Cool and Collected
Anticipating a great judging assignment in Spain, my expectations were high for great travel, great sights and great dogs. Lost luggage, a two-hour wait for a driver and broken-down transportation to the host hotel were minor inconveniences. But they were soon remedied by a shopping spree to replace some necessary items and a great tapas-and-wine dinner at a typical Spanish restaurant that evening with the president of the Molosser Club of Spain and other judges.
What I was not anticipating was tragedy.
Leaving the parking garage of the hotel, we witnessed the unnecessary and senseless loss of three Bullmastiffs. They were housed in a method of transportation often used for small hunting/sporting dogs with long muzzles — not for short-muzzled, large breeds like the Bullmastiff. Not only were the dogs in a “box” with no air circulation, but they were doubled up and left for more than four hours.
When we came upon the scene, the owners and the person responsible for the transport had just found the dogs. Three Bullmastiffs were already deceased. Panicked, their people were without the tools to know what to do with the two surviving bitches: an adult and 8-month-old puppy.
The adult female was obviously in critical condition, and the pup was left for dead and put aside from the small compartment. The adult was left in the “box” with the door open. If it was not for our fortuitous passing and a quick-thinking passenger in our vehicle with the experience and cool head to prevail, these two Bullmastiffs might not have survived.
Fellow breeder-judge Kathryn Roberts of Starrdogs Bullmastiffs in Acworth, Georgia, started critical care by first getting the adult out of the “box” and onto the garage’s cool cement floor. The bitch was non-reactive, barely breathing, but alive.
Kathy began by calling out for blankets, towels, water, ice and alcohol. The individuals were ill equipped and had only a small jug of water, not enough to travel with five Bullmastiffs. While working on the adult bitch, I noticed that the pup began to move and was obviously alive. We all then began treatment on her as well.
It was obvious that these two dogs also desperately needed to get intravenous fluids into them for a chance to survive. It took entirely too long to get the necessary critical-care supplies to start treatment and a veterinarian or technician to administer the necessary fluids; the vet tech arrived more than an hour after the call.
I’m not writing this in criticism of the owners or transporters: Bad things can happen, and these individuals were obviously distraught over the loss of these beloved dogs.
But safety is the most important thing when traveling with our pets. We need to know what to do in an emergency situation, and have the necessary supplies on hand.
Traveling with your Molosser in hot weather poses special risks. For those readers who have commented about how fat this Mastiff is, she has a good excuse: She’s pregnant! All the more reason to keep her cool and unstressed.
Here are some of the things travelers need in order to be prepared in cases of emergency:
• Enough water for each dog for two days’ travel (you can replenish along the way).
• Sufficient ice in a large cooler for two days’ travel (also something can restock en route).
• Isopropyl alcohol for various medical emergencies.
• Medical supplies, such as Benadryl for allergic reactions; bandages and medications for diarrhea, lacerations, burns, etc.
• A knowledge of canine CPR.
• A bloat kit. (You can acquire one from Bullmastiff breeder-vet Sandra Statter at www.showdownk9s.com/BloatKit.html.)
• Ask your vet about providing you with IV fluids during travel in southern climates or summer months (especially if you have young or old dogs traveling with you).
• Sufficient blankets, bedding and towels for each dog.
• Medical/vaccination records of each dog you are traveling with.
• Appropriate-sized crates sufficiently marked with the name of the dog and owner and who to contact in case of an emergency (on each crate).
• List of emergency veterinary clinics in various locations en route to your travel destination.
• Leashes and collars easily accessed for each dog.
• List of contacts in case of an emergency involving you and your human traveling companions.
• If your dog is traveling with a handler, be sure to check the handler’s rig, and make sure your handler has the appropriate supplies and information necessary on your dog in case of an emergency and the education to know what to do in an emergency.
• Awareness of yours and your dogs’ surroundings.
At outdoor events, having a kiddie pool filled with cool water can be a literal lifesaver.
We can all be too cavalier (including myself) in traveling with our dogs, rarely thinking something bad could happen to us. I urge everyone who reads this to educate themselves on critical care in emergency situations, to bring the appropriate equipment, supplies, water, ice, bandages, alcohol and even IV fluids in cases of emergency. I urge you to set up seminars with your all-breed and national and regional specialty clubs for education in traveling with your dogs and treating them in the event of an emergency. But most of all, keep safety as top priority for our canine traveling companions.
I will never forget the soft expressions of gratitude on these two surviving dogs’ faces … they must be now cherished pets. Be prepared, and be aware.