Dougal is a 3 year old toy poodle (an extremely cute one at that!) and although he's never been over keen on walks he does go out for short ones. While he was staying with us for a holiday we went on a little walk, he seemed keen and excited to run around with his friends but then I noticed he began to walk very slowly with tiny steps, it looked as if he wasn't bending his knees .... before I knew it he collapsed. I immediately rushed over and picked him up, he was floppy but panting heavily so we ran back home, fortunately we were only a few minutes away.
When we got home I left the other dogs in the back room so I could take him to a calm place and placed him on the settee. He layed flat and panting as I stroked him reassuringly. His legs were stiff and not bending, I wondered if he was having a seizure and remembered that I need to keep him calm. I went to the back room and took the leads off the other dogs and got a bowl of water for Dougal, this took approximately 1 minute but when I returned to the lounge I discovered he had stopped breathing. I picked him up and he was floppy with his eyes open. I gave him a gentle shake but he was unresponsive. So at this point I keep thinking to myself 'stay calm', believe me this is very hard, especially when you have an emotional attachment!
I had recently been on my Dog First Aid refresher course and was saying 'think. think. think' as I placed him on the floor and checked for his heartbeat by feeling for a pulse in his inner upper thigh. Nothing. I then felt on his chest, nothing. I placed my face right next to his mouth to feel for breathing, ok so I could have done this with my hand but I was just doing things spontaneously. I opened his mouth and he didn't resist, I felt inside and there weren't any obstructions. There were no signs of life at all so at this point I started chest compressions. Thinking back to my first aid course I should have blown air into his lungs first but in the moment I was just doing the things I remembered as they popped into my head. I also couldn't remember the exact amount of compressions but knew it was about 20 seconds and the rhythm I used was 'COME ON DOOGIE, COME ON DOOGIE, COME ON DOOGIE, COME ON DOOGIE' (my nickname for him). Whilst doing this I knew I was going to have to blow air into his lungs and quickly recalled that I should hold his mouth shut and blow through his nose. I continued this routine for about a minute and I noticed that when I blew into his nose his chest would rise up (filling with air) and as I compressed his chest the air would express out his mouth with each push. It was very surreal thinking back and everything around me was a blur as I just continued to say 'COME ON DOOGIE'. 1000 different things were going through my head but I couldn't stop. I've watched Casualty where they say 'Don't stop until the ambulance arrives' but then i realised the ambulance wasn't coming.
He moaned. I stopped. I was silent, trying to breath as quietly as I could so I could listen out for his breathing. I felt for his pulse and it was there! The door was knocking as Lara's mummies had come to collect her from daycare, then Paige came downstairs .... I was a little euphoric and a lot scared, I felt like laughing and crying at the same time. I tried to fill everybody in as to what had just happened but I know I wasn't making sense. We all agreed that he needs to go to the vet immediately. Dougal you little Darling!!!
I went to the back room to get my phone and bag, retuning less than 1 minute later to find that HE HAD STOPPED BREATHING AGAIN. This was devastating as realisation hit that I could do the same again but he would just keep stopping. I immediately began CPR again, this time I was a lot more composed whilst Paige phoned the vets and explained to them what was happening. They said we need to get him there immediately but I knew traffic would be a challenge and didn't want a 15 minute journey with no heart beat - surely that would be truly impossible?
Paige felt a heartbeat, praise the lord! He blinked but remained unresponsive but we could tell there was life in him as he was blinking so at this point we got him to the vets. I wish I had a blue flashing light to get past the traffic! It was the longest 15 minute drive of my life. The staff were awaiting his arrival and took his little body from us at the door and ran with him.
The staff at the vets were extremely concerned with his condition on arrival but through the night he seemed to make a miraculous recovery. Dougal is a phenomenon. Tests are ongoing but at the moment it appears that he may have a very rare heart condition and he had experienced an episode whilst he was with us. He is going to see a specialist next week but for now he is back home with his family and is back to his old self, apart from he is on a stick 'no exercise' routine, so lots of cuddles all round.
I wanted to share my experience with you to raise awareness of 3 things:
1) Always use a licensed care provider when you leave your pet. This means that they will have completed their Dog First Aid. Ask to see certificates, if they are licensed & insured they will be proud to show you them.
2) Familiarise yourself with Dog First Aid and CPR in particular as lots of people are unaware that its even possible to perform this on an animal. Consider booking yourself on a First Aid Course. Obviously things in real life will always be different to those you learn on the course as emotions will be high, but you will know the basics, as I did.
3) Look how cute Dougal is.