Tanner hasn't been home in a day.
That's an eternity in dog time.
So when the golden retriever hears Diana Fitch's voice as she walks into the back room where he's been staying cool during this recent heat wave, he erupts into yips and squeals. Next, he's out of his cage and jumping into her arms, barely holding still for the leash to be put on his collar.
"This place was a lifesaver," said Fitch, whose power had been out from last Friday until Wednesday night. "It was a real blessing."
Fort Wayne set another record high Thursday when it hit 101 degrees, according to the National Weather Service, breaking the record of 99 set in 1988.
As Allen County residents continue to battle excessive heat – today's record of 99 degrees in 1988 is in jeopardy, the weather service said, with forecast highs ranging from 102 to 108 – there have been multiple cooling centers set up throughout Fort Wayne and the surrounding area.
HOPE for Animals, a nonprofit spay and neuter and wellness clinic, opened Wednesday to people's four-legged friends, offering a free place to shelter pets of residents without power or air conditioning.
Fitch said Tanner was struggling with the heat since her power outage. The frequent hosedowns she gave the dog in her yard to keep him cool weren't cutting it anymore, so she took him to the clinic once she saw it on the news.
"Now my carpet has to be shampooed, but you gotta do what you gotta do," she said jokingly, scratching and hugging Tanner when picking him up.
Madeleine Laird, the clinic's executive director and founder, said animals will more than likely be panting and breathing in hot air constantly. They can easily become overheated and dehydrated in this kind of heat, something many owners might not think about.
"I absolutely think people underestimate what the heat can do to animals, especially to outdoor dogs," Laird said. "Everyone's struggling, but if owners can put a fur coat on in this weather they can get a sense of what their pets are going through."
The clinic has space for about 70 pets and currently houses about 15. It will be open today from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. If power outages persist through Saturday, the clinic will reassess the situation.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is recommending frequent breaks for workers in shade or air conditioning today and Saturday. The National Weather Service is recommending everyone spend a portion of the day in air conditioning if possible.
An excessive heat warning is still in effect for Northeast Indiana.
"An excessive heat warning means that prolonged periods of dangerously hot temperatures will occur," the National Weather Service says on its website. "The combination of hot temperatures and high humidity will combine to create a dangerous situation in which heat illnesses are likely."
People should drink plenty of water, stay out of the sun and check on relatives and neighbors, especially the elderly and young, who can be most affected by the heat, according to the weather service's website.
Fort Wayne is operating several cooling centers, and the Red Cross has also opened a shelter. That shelter at First Assembly of God, 1400 W. Washington Center Road, had planned to close at 10 a.m. today, but a spokeswoman said the agency would reassess the need after more storm-related power outages were reported Thursday night.
Animals should be kept in air conditioning or at least as cool as possible, according to Laird.
At the HOPE clinic, a special room for cats has its own temperature controls, and all animals are constantly supervised and checked every five to 10 minutes, volunteer Katie Pease said. Walks are given regularly, and owners can visit their pets at any time.
For Fitch, whose power came back on Wednesday night, the clinic provided her and her dog with much needed relief. Though she and her family missed him, she said she didn't worry about him being uncomfortable or unsafe.
But she was extremely happy to see the dog again and scratched him some more as he clutched the toy monkey she left with him during his stay at HOPE. In turn, Tanner wagged his tail constantly, wiggled with excitement and made it practically impossible for Fitch or Pease to leash him.
"That's the way we like these to end," Pease said of the happy reunion.