From Whistler it took my boyfriend and I about one and a half hours to cruise into Vancouver, the newly developed highway proving its worth. I was braving the big city to do a course in canine first aid, an eight-hour day of inflating dog dummies, bandaging stuffed toys and converting every human first aid technique I knew to the four-legged way of doing things.
Michelle Sevigny, a former Vancouver police officer, greets me at the door. I’m a little nervous, it’s been a while since I was in a classroom situation for over eight hours and with the sun shining I wished I’d planned a hike instead. Michelle pushes these thoughts aside as she asks me about my dog and introduces me to hers, ‘Monty’, a seven-year old rottweiler. Dog owners are like people with children, we like to talk about them. It can be endless, but to be honest I love it, dogs are a constant source of entertainment and for me sharing these stories is fascinating.
But back to business, as the class fills and people bring in the obligatory Tim Horton’s from across the street we dive right in. There’s a work book in front of me that looks more like a novel, at least it has pictures. Michelle introduces herself and I soon learn that the principles of dog first aid are much like human first aid, just a tweak here and there. Number one thing I learn pretty quickly, is that is not mouth to mouth, but mouth to snout! Something I had not really thought about, but now seems pretty obvious.
I have always been a keen learner and even now I am going over the different stats in my head even now, please note they do differ of you have a Chihuahua or a Great Dane;
Dogs hear rate per minute – ranges from 60-160
Dogs temperature should be between 100 – 102 degrees (take a guess where the thermometer goes)
Dogs breathing should be at 15 – 30 breathes per minute
Each dog is different and it’s a good idea to know what’s normal for yours. I learnt where to get these readings, how to secure the dog whilst taking them and when to seek aid. Michelle was a wonder at mixing practical examples where we all got involved, to demonstrations on Monty, video clips and seminar style lecturing. And yes, in case you were thinking about it, there is the dog version of resuscitation Annie except it’s a dalmatian!
We briefly talked about situations where the owner or person with the injured dog will have to make some heartbreak decisions. Do you jump into the fast-flowing river that they have fallen into? Do you stop CPR so you can drive to the vets or carry on? Physically how long can you do CPR, how much weight can you carry? She couldn’t answer these questions because as every trained emergency personnel knows, when you are in the situation these calls are yours to make.
This was a great day to learn the basics that could help you and your canine friend, or someone else’s for that matter, when they need it the most. Click on the link below to visit Michelle’s site.