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Wait, dogs can get sunburns?

There are two things I'm allergic to, and no, these aren't regular allergies like nuts or dairy. I'm allergic to onions -- red onions and white onions, but somehow not chives. And sunscreen. Yes, you read that correctly. I'll say it again: I'm allergic to sunscreen.

Now before you go and pity me for the inevitable melanoma I may develop, you should know that being allergic to sunscreen isn't actually that bad. On the contrary: not having to apply sunscreen before I go outside for hours actually gives me a lot more time for activities. It also means I turn a crisp, golden brown when June rolls around every year (thank you, Mexican heritage, for the chance to not be so white for a whole three months).

Unfortunately, however, not having to put sunscreen on myself means I sometimes -- okay, often -- forget to remind others to lather up. The Fourth of July weekend was no exception, and victims are still suffering for it.

For the Fourth, my girlfriend and I drove to Colorado Springs to visit my family. As is family tradition, we went water-skiing at the local -- and only -- watering hole in Colorado Springs. Since this would be only the second time we would visit my family for a water-ski weekend, I was still the one responsible for packing what we would bring. Swimsuits? Check. Water bottles? Check. Girlfriend's dog? Taken for a walk and ready for long drive in the backseat. Check.

Pierre, looking a little pink at the lake.
Pierre, looking a little pink at the lake.

Fast forward two days to our return trip to Denver and you can imagine how shocked my girlfriend and I were when our four-legged friend, Pierre, a terrier mix but mostly Jack Russell and mostly spoiled as hell, was as red as my fair-skin-gone-burnt girlfriend's stomach. He looked more like a pig than a terrier, and if his spotted pot belly were to remain that pink, we knew what we would dress him up as for Halloween. Poor dog -- his life isn't terribly hard: get up, go for a walk, poop and return to my girlfriend's bed for just another day of lounging around the house -- but he seemed so lethargic when we got home that even lifting his paw out of his little bed took effort. Pierre didn't want to walk, didn't want to eat. He didn't even want to eat any of the leftover Fourth of July fried chicken. All he wanted to do was mope around.

Worse yet, Pierre didn't want to be picked up, much less cradled like a baby as my girlfriend so often likes to do to him. I think it reminded him too much of his experience of the lake, when she would cradle him and his belly was directly in the sun's war path. Pierre's lethargy began to be worrisome, so I did some research on doggy sunburns (too bad there's not a WebMD for dogs). Yes, apparently just because I am allergic to sunscreen doesn't mean dogs are. In fact, some websites encourage you put to sunscreen on a dog more often than you would a baby. Who. Freaking. Knew.

I also learned that there's not much you can do to cure a doggy sunburn, besides rub aloe -- yes, there is an aloe just for dogs -- on his skin... or feed him ice cream. Like the parent who spoils her child, my girlfriend tried her ice cream route while I, on the other hand, gave Pierre an aloe bath. "Spoiled" doesn't begin to describe Pierre's life that day.

Now, almost a week later, Pierre is still lethargic, still lazy, still the king of the household -- but just as much as he was pre-sunburn. Oddly though, his potbelly continues to turn pig pink on occasion. At first I thought it was because he was still so sunburnt, but now I know it's because Pierre is trying to milk the pain for all its worth and get even more attention, and ice cream, than he already does. What a ham.

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