Tino and the Red Ants
I haven’t told a Tino story in awhile and this one is a doozy. This dates back probably 11 years ago, when we lived in Pasadena and Tino was probably about 5 or 6, so he was in his prime. We frequently ran and hiked in Cherry Canyon, a nearby open space area with miles and miles of trails.
One Sunday, Tino and I went for a run. It was just the two of us, I’m not sure where Sally was – she might have been recovering from her elbow surgery and unable to go with us. But Tino and I were on our own.
We were out a little later than usual, maybe around 10am and it was warm. We were doing a loop where we hiked up a pretty steep trail, looped around along the side of the mountain and then came down a more gentle slope back to the car. Tino was reliable enough that I let him run off lead throughout the park. We were running along enjoying the day and all of a sudden he just stopped. Refused to move. Dead stop. We were about half-way through the run – on the flat trail along the side of the mountain and I had no idea what was wrong.
Then he sat down. I thought maybe he had twisted his ankle or something and fear shot through me. How would I get him down from here? How would I get back to the car? I tried coaxing, pulling, pleading. Nothing worked. I checked him over and saw red ants all over his back legs. He had stepped right on a red ant hill and probably got bit and probably multiple times.
I knew I had to get him away from the ants and down the hill. I brushed all the ants off of him and pushed him away from the nest, but he still wouldn’t walk.
My last resort was to carry him. Did I mention this was when he was 5 or 6 and in his prime? He weighed about 70-75lbs. Now, I workout and I lift weights, but carrying a 70lb dog down a mountain trail for about a mile or more was not likely to go smoothly or end well, but I had no other choice.
I picked him up and off we went. I had to stop and set him down frequently and then finally about 3/4 of the way down he started to walk on his own. We made it down the rest of the hill and into the car and by the time we got home he was fine.
The moral of this story? Well, there’s a couple:
- When hiking in remote areas, always carry a cell phone so if you or your dog become incapacitated, you can call someone.
- Have a plan – make it now so you know what you will do if something similar happens to you.
- Take emergency supplies, water, benedryl, quick wipes. I always carried pepper spray for the coyotes too.
- If you have a big dog, take up weight-lifting.
And the red ants? Luckily, Tino didn’t have an allergic reaction, although I think he did sustain multiple bites. They can be quite dangerous though and you should take immediate action, particularly if your dog shows any signs of an allergic reaction. While red ants, or fire ants are much more prevalent in the southeast portion of the US, we do have them here in CA. Their nests are underground, so you can barely tell they are there. This is what the nest that Tino stepped in looked like. Doesn’t look like anything does it. Be careful & be prepared.
Have any of you had a run in with red ants?
Here’s a few additional resources on dealing with red ants: