Tampa Bay residents Tim Cashman and his wife Kristina were visiting Crossville for their friend’s 75th birthday with their two English bulldogs when the holidays became an emergency.
On Friday, June 24, the couple and their dogs drove to their friend’s property, which is across from Cumberland Mountain State Park. Tim and Kristina showed up to help their friends get set up for Saturday’s party, setting tables and blowing up balloons. They brought the two dogs, named Auggie and Libby, with them.
“Since Auggie is a rescue, he gets a little anxious at times,” Cashman said. “He really wanted the balloons we were popping, so he was getting a little excited.”
Temperatures reached 80 degrees that day and Auggie began to have trouble breathing from the heat. Due to the short-nosed shape of an English Bulldog’s skull, they can often have difficulty breathing and they are also prone to overheating.
After spending half an hour at their friend’s house, Tim and Kristina noticed that the dog was very hot, so they placed him and Libby in the car with the air conditioning on. A few minutes later, Kristina went to see him, then came back and said, “He’s not breathing well.
Tim suggested taking Auggie to the state park across the street to let him go for a swim in the lake to cool off.
“When we got there he was really struggling to breathe, and we had never seen that before,” Tim said.
Tim then remembered that on Thursday, they had passed a veterinary hospital (Plateau Animal Hospital) when arriving in Crossville. He looked up the animal hospital and called them, and was told to call Best Friends Animal Hospital. After calling them, Tim drove to the hospital, Kristina in the back seat with Auggie.
The building was still instructed to park in a parking spot and call the hospital to let them know they were arriving, a COVID-19 safety measure, so Tim wasn’t sure he could get in. As he got out of the car, one of the vet techs left the building and he asked if he needed to call them before picking up his dog, who was in distress and not breathing well.
The vet tech followed Tim to the car and opened the back door for her to see Auggie, whose tongue had turned blue. She reached into the car, grabbed the dog and rushed to the hospital with him.
“If we took another 15 minutes he would be dead,” Tim said. “They told us that. They said, ‘If you hadn’t brought him here as fast as you did, he never would have arrived.’
Vets Dr. Kristin Miller and Dr. Nika Cantrell immediately took the dog to the back and began working on him. Cantrell told Tim and Kristina that Aggie had heat stroke – her temperature was 106. She told the couple they might need to put him on a ventilator, and said there was no 50 to 50 chance that Aggie will make it.
“We were so scared of losing him, and we just couldn’t believe it all happened so fast,” Tim said.
“If he died, my wife would be devastated, as I would be,” Tim said. “But she wouldn’t have left him there. I should have gone back to Tampa Bay with the dead dog in the back of the car. And that would have been the most horrible ride – it would have been terrible to do.
During the few hours they were there, the vets put Auggie on a ventilator and gave him an ice bath to cool him down. They told the couple that if they wanted to leave, the vets would call them with updates. After Tim and Kristina returned to where they were staying, Miller called to let the couple know that they had turned off the oxygen in Auggie’s ventilator, and he was now breathing on his own, but they had always ventilated it. She said that was a good sign.
The vets called twice more that night, once at 10pm to let them know the vent had been removed and Auggie was breathing on his own – they were now trying to keep him calm.
That morning, Miller called around 7:45 a.m., to say the couple needed to pick up the dog because he “didn’t like his housemates” and “gave them stinky eyes.”
“They had charged us when we were there,” Tim said. “They said it could cost between $1,100 and $2,200 a day.”
The Cashmans gave the hospital a $1,000 deposit, and in the morning they expected to pay more money and received a total of about $771.
“We gave them our credit card, and they said, ‘No, no. We owe you $229. We couldn’t believe it. In Tampa Bay, what did they do to keep him there all night? It would have cost us $5,000, $6,000,” Tim said.
“Everyone on this staff was just amazing, and the care they gave him – you don’t see that here,” Tim said. “Those two doctors were amazing, they saved him.”
“He could have easily died from it, and they saved him, there’s no doubt about it. And he’s our boy, you know? We couldn’t believe how good they were,” he continued. “It even made us think that we might decide to buy some property and move up there.”
The couple first adopted Auggie just over two years ago from their local shelter.
“When we rescued him, we had never had bulldogs before,” Tim said. “And he was mistreated. He was young when we got him, not even a year old. He changed our lives, this dog.
After getting her soon after, they decided to give her another dog to hang out with, prompting them to adopt Libby. As of now, Auggie is three and Libby is four.
“Where we live, he’s like the neighborhood mayor,” Tim said. “Everybody loves Auggie. He’s one of those kind of dogs.