Save a Pet’s Life, or a Person’s, and Learn CPR

My morning walks sometimes take a weird turn.

I was wandering around town following the dog.  It was about 2 hours before dawn, normal for us.

I was decidedly allowing my dog, Rack the McNab Superdog (TM) to lead.   We hit the south end of town and were in a parking lot near the park there.  He just veered off to the right to head into the neighborhood there and slowed down wagging his tail.

There I saw, approaching us, my neighbor, Juan.  We greeted as normal, which is to say he was excitedly starting to tell me a story.

“I just about lost my dog!  He was laying there dying!”

Yes, that’s a bit dramatic for just before 6AM.  It turns out his dog had either swallowed something or really had just decided to cross that damn Rainbow Bridge on his own.

What he told me was that he picked up “Bear” and performed the Heimlich on the dog followed by chest compressions.

“That is just what my first aid training would have told me to do with a person, I’m glad you saved him!”

Long story short… Bear is alive because someone knew just what to do.

That happened with my nephew, Jon, when he was around 4 years old.  I was at their house.  He ate “something” and it got caught in his windpipe.  Of course being a kid, he ran out of the room and upstairs.  I came calling after him.  He was getting wobbly and blue in the face.

I ordered him (yes, ordered.  That command presence can be very useful!)  to turn around.  He fell against me.  I put my fist into a ball and applied pressure just under the rib cage.

Well, with a gush of air and a splat, the offending piece of food ended up stuck on my Mom’s grey wall paper on top of the stairs at her house in Cherry Hill.

My nephew is still alive to this day.

You can do this to yourself.  I did.

Watermelon with seeds are wonderful.  Without seeds they taste like a basketball.  Trust me, I’m from New Jersey.  I bit off more than I could chew and it got stuck in my windpipe.

Relax, don’t panic, relax your abdomen, and push sharply on your abdomen.

The fruit popped out of my windpipe immediately.

Whenever possible, I always have maintained my Red Cross First Aid training.  If you get a chance to take it, don’t blow it off, you may be that guardian angel that someone or someone’s pet needs to survive.

Oh and skip the rawhide “treats”.  That stuff is evil and stuffed with questionable chemicals.

It is leather after all.  Would you like to chew on a handbag?  A shoe?

When your dog goes to swallow the “treat”, it may form a plug in their throat or windpipe and if you aren’t watching, you’ll be left in tears as your trusted friend makes that trip across the Rainbow Bridge.

If you do know CPR and the Heimlich maneuver, the actions are similar on a dog or a cat to what you’d do to a person.

Choking, see if you can clear the windpipe or the throat of any obstructions, and if not, apply pressure to the abdomen.  There’s a one page PDF here from the SPCA explaining exactly how.

As far as CPR is concerned the instructions are to place your hands on the ribcage and do chest compressions at the rate of 20 per minute, or the speed of “Staying Alive” then two rescue breaths into their nose.  A Better explanation can be found here on the Red Cross.

They all recommend after an issue like this to get your pet to a vet for an exam since they can’t talk.

My nephew Jon didn’t need a vet.  Nor a doctor.

This Time Change Thing, My Dog Is Not A Fan And Neither Am I

The best time of the day to get a long walk in is before dawn.

At least for me.  Your mileage may vary.  Mine certainly does.

I am normally up before dawn, except the “High Summer” when it’s hot and the sun gets over The Bahamas at Four-Freaking-Why-Am-I-Up-Again O’Clock.  It is a holdover from when I was doing marathon inline skating workouts and semi-competing all over Philadelphia and Fairmount Park.  Going from City Line to Valley Forge as a third of a workout means you go early, you go long.

Bring plenty of snacks.

But this is much more mundane.  There’s a reason now to do these walks.  Keeping the dog sane.

He is Rack, the Mc Nab SuperDog(TM) who can run faster than the speed of light through a wormhole that we discovered behind the shed in the back corner of the yard.  He’s also tearing up the turf since he can corner sharper than a dime.  All those right angle turns will take energy and when you are leaning over to bank the turn at 89.999 degrees, you’re going to rip up a little grass.

Maybe I should put something up there, shift his path a little bit.

But I get up with my usual schedule at the Five O’Clock In The Morning Bonus Hour and get the walk in while it is still what passes for cool here in the place where weather can usually be described as “Being in someone else’s bathroom while they take a long hot shower” Warm.

Just go in your bathroom, turn on the water full hot, close the door and wait for the air to steam up.

Yeah, like that.

But it’s what passes for Spring, the highs are still in the 80s and the mornings are quite pleasant.

So time to take the dog out for A Long Walk of about a mile and a quarter.  Lots of switchbacks, and turns around my neighborhood so that I am not walking the same block twice.  You don’t want to do that at 5 AM because, things.  Someone might be out and about and wonder why you are too.

However that didn’t happen that particular day.  It is because we, and many other countries, have an insane habit of Spring Ahead, Fall Back.  Daylight Savings Time.  Like that really “saves” anything.  More like cutting the end of a string off and tying it to the beginning to make it better.

While you get the time back eventually, it never is actually lost.  Just annoys you while you readjust your schedule.  Has me thinking “Will you people make up your mind?”.

But nobody else was thinking that this morning.  By nobody, I really mean nobody.  Quiet like a tomb.  Creepy like a cemetery.  Chill down your spine creepy.

You see, when I walk down Wilton Drive, the spine of the business district in Wilton Manors, I expect certain activity.  Delivery Trucks bringing food to the restaurant to be restocked and cooked later.  The barbacks and crews cleaning the bars.  One guy sitting in the desk in the travel agency talking business to someone over in Europe somewhere.  Same stuff different walk.

This day?  Nothing.

I did say like a tomb.  Not a soul walking around except me wondering where everyone was.

It’s like someone decided to adjust their clocks or something!

I got off The Drive, and headed back on the second half of the walk through the neighborhood.  Past the darkened apartments where nobody had their yappy little dogs barking at the skies.  No airplanes overhead.  No other dog walkers.

Nothing.  Got that pin?  Drop it, I’m sure you could hear it.  Not even the breezes were moving that morning.

I did manage to spot Jupiter, Saturn, and Mars, or what I believe are them, where they belonged and moving slightly each day.  They’re in a line, or more accurately, an arc, across the skies.  I’ll lose Mars first, then probably lose track of the other two.  But for now, it occupies my empty mind.

Looking down at Rack I say “weird morning huh?”

He wags his tail once or twice, then goes back to sniffing a leaf.

“Nobody out yet!”
Did I mention that his English is getting stronger?  He gave a vigorous wag to that as if to say “Definitely”.

“We’ll be home soon enough, this walk is just strange”

Even a stronger wag, and he looked back at me to nod “Yes”.

He knows what the concept of  “Yes” is since I taught him that it gives him things he wants.  You should see the little comic nodding his head to get out the door.  He’s about to nod that head off his neck.

But we plodded through the neighborhood, out of the apartment areas, past the McMansions, and into the Old Florida Homes that look much more reasonable here.  Low slung to hunker down in case of a storm, a one level home lets the trees block the winds for you in case of a hurricane and they’re much more likely to survive when the two or three level condo loses its roof.

That roof that will end up in your swimming pool, of course.

We get on Our Street and keep going.  Rack is tired now, after a mile and a quarter of walking.

“That’s it buddy, time to wash your feet.  Some day you’ll stop painting your white legs yellow!”.

He nods his head “Yes” again.

I grab the hose, wash them down, walk him through the grass to wipe the pads off and we’re done.

Another creepy walk down.  I guess that’s what happens when everyone is still asleep.

Nothing.  Nothing at all.  Just a nice walk around town.

On A Good Day, They’re Still A Dog. How Rack Is Afraid of Buddha

I used to take trips with my dog, Lettie.  She was what we call a “Mostly Mc Nab”.  Part McNab Dog, Part Border Collie.  She would curl up on the seat of the car and mind her own business until she thought there was something that needed attention.  Snap my fingers, there she was.

My own philosophy of training a dog is not to treat them like a human, but expect more of them than a dog.  In otherwords: complex behaviors yes, “Sit Up And Beg” no.

One trip from Philadelphia to Florida, Lettie was with me.  She was riding in the Jeep, sometimes top down, sometimes not.  We hit a shower with the roof down and she just looked up at me, judged me silently, and curled back into a DogBall with her tail over her face as if to say “Hey, stupid, pull over and put the roof up!”.

We pulled into the rest stop.  I got the roof up in the drizzle that was now ending, and she hopped out of the car.  I wasn’t too worried, she knew what she wanted.  The light pole at the end of the parking space was calling her.  I left the door open, she climbed up and went back to dog ball.

Next to me was a police cruiser.  I closed the door to the car, and the officer got out with his dog.  There was that same bond that I had with my Lettie.  You just seem to fit together, hand and glove.  We talked about that sort of training and he made his comment.  There are days when dogs don’t get it right because “On a good day, they’re still a dog”.

Just don’t expect too much.

On the beach we arrived.  I’d take her out for her march around town.  There was an apartment building there that was rather close to the walkway.  In front of the walkway was a concrete Lion.

Lettie got it wrong.  Fur went up.  Teeth bared.  She started barking at the ornament.  That thing didn’t belong.  I stopped her, got her calmed down, even showed her what she did.  The rest of the walk she acted much more toned down, even submissive, if an Alpha Dog could ever be submissive.

I was thinking about that the other night.  Rack has the same knife edged sharp intelligence as Lettie did.  He’s a pure-blooded McNab Dog.  At least we think he is because he looks like the textbook and acts like one.  We’ll never know because he’s a rescue.

He takes notice of things around town.  He knows where the restaurant is that they come out and fuss over him with cookies, and he knows where the ice cream shop is that he can go to socialize from time to time.  He’s learning which local dogs to avoid, and which businesses have an out of control yapper inside that will lunge at the door.

If your dog lunges out of control, you are not the boss, your dog is.  Train the dog.  You will both be happier.

It usually has those abstracts that all look roughly the same, smudges of color meant to look nice and inoffensive.  You might expect to see that sort of thing in a corridor somewhere.  I don’t really pay the gallery all that much attention.

All of the sudden Rack starts barking like crazy.  Something was out of place.  I looked at him and he was barking at the door.

There was someone looking back at him.  Buddha.

Sitting on a small table by the door was a concrete or resin statuary of Buddha.  About the size of a small child, it sat there serenely watching things go by.  The Thai art tradition, it had a head dress on it and a card next to it announcing the gallery’s services.

Rack did not like this at all.  It was out of place, and it threatened him by looking back at him.


Rack, stop.

“Grrr, WOO WOO Grrr”

He slowed down to a slow grumble.  His normal fearful self came out.  Leaning about 45 degrees to the ground on his purple leash, the fur on his back was standing as close to straight up as you could get.

It’s OK, boy, lets go.

He scrabbled an arc away from Buddha and we went on his way.

Yep.  On his best day, he’s still a dog.   We’ll have to work on that one.  I bet next time he will become one with the Buddha and approach enlightenment that the statue shall not harm him.

I hope he will.  Silly dog.