Monday, May 31, 2010

The one in which we break down

After working a 6-day week, I was looking forward to a relaxing holiday weekend. Perhaps a visit to the winery, followed by some light gardening, and of course, traditional Memorial Day weekend food - burgers, macaroni salad, and frozen Margaritas.

I stopped at the grocery store after work, then picked up Panda, who had spent Saturday morning with her grandma. On the way home, I bought a flat of annual flowers, then filled the car with gas. Before I headed back to the country, I thought I might treat myself to a Frosty at Wendy's. While in the drive-thru line, I suddenly noticed clouds of steam rolling out from under the hood of the car.
That maroon red Saturn, the one with the hood up ... That's mine, dead in the Wendy's parking lot. It wasn't until after I saw the steam that the warning light on the control panel lit up. Yeah, I know the car's overheating. Thanks for the notice.

Although I was more than a little stressed about my car, I was freaking out about my puppy. She had already complained about the heat when we shopped for flowers, and I didn't think the car's a/c was functioning as well as it should be. (That makes sense now,
after the fact.)
Sitting for a few minutes in a hot car, even with all the windows wide open, Panda was panting excessively. I was slightly hysterical. I remembered this little factoid:

"A closed car, even with the windows partially opened, reaches 102 degrees in 10 minutes at air temperatures of 85 degrees or more. The temperature will reach 120 degrees in 30 minutes."

After calling AAA and getting a 30-45 minute wait time for a tow, I walked up to the drive-thru window and asked the Wendy's employees for a cup of ice water. I found the only patch of shade in their parking lot, under a bush. It was enough for Panda, if not for me.

We sat together, drinking water and cooling off as best we could, while waiting for help. Panda, thankfully, stopped panting and actually went to sleep.Finally, the tow truck came, I got my purse, my groceries, my flowers, my binoculars, and my puppy stuff out of the car. Panda slept in the cab of the tow truck (with its very powerful air conditioning) all the way to the repair shop, where my car is spending the weekend. We got a ride home (Thanks, Mom!) and I'm now hoping that the car repairs aren't too extreme.

The take-home lessons: Never leave a dog alone in a car when it is this hot outside (mid to upper 80's) and always carry water and a pet bowl with you if you travel with your dogs. You never know when you might be stranded.


Susan Gets Native said...

I would like to add "...or a child."

I always seem to get stranded in a dead car in the dead of winter. Which is why I always have blankets and snacks.

Mary said...

I was traveling from Maryland to Wilmington, NC with young Bella in a new GMC Envoy. She was in a crate all the way in the back with good A/C. The traffic backed up in Norfolk on a 102 degree day... I was terrified my engine was overheating on an expressway - sitting in the blazing sun. The temperature gauge was freaking me out but I never needed to turn the A/C off. But worried for the next 4 hours of my trip. Once on 95S, I pulled into a shaded rest stop and Bella and I sat under a tree for at least 30 minutes, letting the car cool down and US. Of course, I had plenty of cold water on board.

Glad everything is OK for you.

Heron said...

I hope the car is running fine and all is well with you. Looking forward to any Panda photos or stories, when time allows.

Kathiesbirds said...

Well, thank goodness that panda has a Momma who knows just what to do! Glad you are both safe and well and hopefully cool by now!