“I left my two dogs with a pet sitter overnight. The next day, they were dead.”

My two French bulldogs, Hank and Dita, were my world.

A majority of my life revolved around them, and they were always factored into my most important decisions.

Over the weekend, my partner and I had a birthday party to attend an hour and a half from our home, and as it was quite a drive we decided to stay the night. I messaged the person who walks my dogs semi-regularly and asked him if he might come on Sunday morning to take them for a walk and feed them their breakfast. He responded and offered that he would be happy to have them at his place for the night. He absolutely adored my dogs. So he came and picked them up, and we went on our way.

We had a nice Sunday morning, knowing that our dogs would have had a good play and had their breakfast and would be dropped back to our place by the time we got home.

Hank and Dita. Image supplied.

We stopped for lunch on the way home, and it was then I got a phone call. I was told, "there's been an incident, the dogs were playing at the park and they became quite unwell so they are now at the vet. The vet said they believe they have heat stroke and they are trying to get their temperature down before transporting them to emergency."

I immediately felt like I was going to vomit. I asked, "are they going to be OK?" but was simply told, "we don't know."

I became incredibly upset at this point, and ran back into the restaurant to get my partner, David. I told him Hank and Dita were at the vet with heat stroke, and immediately, we paid and left.


The drive to emergency was the longest hour of my life and I cried the entire way, frantically googling heat stroke in dogs and the rate of survival. I also messaged a friend of mine who is a vet and told her what had happened. She tried to reassure me that they would probably just be sedated and given fluids until they became stable again.

When we arrived, we were led into a room where the sitter and his wife were talking to the vet. He couldn't look at me, nor could I look at him. The vet proceeded to tell us that Hank was unconscious, while Dita was awake but still being stabilised. She said they had both suffered seizures and that Dita had possibly aspirated, which would likely cause infectious pneumonia.

Hank and Jas in happier times. Image supplied.

A short time later, the vet came back in and said that Dita had suffered another seizure and had to be sedated. She said in a very calm voice, "I have to tell you that her prognosis is not good, and you need to think about what's best for her. I would advise that you let her go"

My heart was in my throat, and my partner and I then had to sign papers to consent to Dita's death. We were taken in to see her, and she was shaking and unresponsive. I held her head in my hands, kissed her, placed my head against hers and told her I loved her. I told her that she was such a good girl and that I was sorry. My partner then cuddled and kissed her, and we held her paw as the vet sedated her and then euthanised her. She passed straight away.

We then got to see Hank. He wasn't conscious, but was breathing on his own. We were told that his blood clotting times were increasing which was not good. The vet advised us to go home, and said she would call us if anything changed.

David and I came back out to the reception area where the sitter and his wife were still waiting. His head was in his hands, and when I told them Dita had passed away,  he broke down. He looked me in the eyes and apologised. I walked over and hugged him - I knew this was killing him too.

We went home to our empty house and were numb from shock, our heads ached from crying and our hearts bled.

We watched the clock praying that the phone wouldn't ring, and by 9pm our hopes started to rise. Then at 9:45 my phone rang and we looked at each other, the sick feeling returning.

It was the vet, and she said Hank needed an immediate plasma transfusion or he would die. We told her to do it - to do whatever she had to.

LISTEN: The Mamamia Out Loud team discuss how much is 'too much' to spend on a dog. Post continues after audio. 

In the early hours of the morning, my phone rang again.  I answered it in the dark, and put it on speaker. It was another vet telling us the transfusion hadn't helped, that there was nothing more that could be done. We needed to permit them to euthanise Hank.

David immediately started crying, but by this point I was completely numb. I said, "do what you have to," and after hanging up, Dave held me and sobbed and I sat there in silence and shock.

I sent a text message to the sitter to tell him we had lost Hank. That I had lost both of my babies and didn't know why. He responded the next day apologising again profusely, and offering to sit down with us and explain the events that took place.

I'm not ready yet to hear it, and I know nothing will ever bring them back. I know he would never have harmed them on purpose, and I'm positive he will never again make the same mistake. But it would never have happened in our care, and that's what hurts the most. People need to understand the importance of not exercising brachycephalic breeds in the heat.

More than anything, I just want to spread awareness on the risk.


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