When I first mentioned to people that Cheryl and I were going on a first aid course for dogs there was, it is fair to say, some mirth. Would I be giving them the kiss of life? CPR? Bandaging them up?
Well actually, yeah!
Dog owners know that they quickly become part of your family, and if something bad were to happen to them, you would be devastated. Now, imagine learning afterwards that you could have helped saved their life if you had spent a few hours learning basic first aid, just as you would do for humans.
Sounds like a no-brainer, doesn't it?
Rhodes 2 Safety
We chose to go with Rhodes 2 Safety for our course, led by the informative Kerry Rhodes with able assistance from her Rhodesian Ridgebacks Axl and Chi, two stunners who often stole the show with their cheeky antics!
Rhodes 2 Safety are exceptionally well regarded, and in recognition of their work to bring life saving tips to dog owners were named UK's Best Canine First Aid Training Company in the Business Excellence Awards of 2017.
By chance, our session was being filmed for an upcoming TV show on the best dogs in the UK from Ricochet TV. Now being on TV is no strange thing to Cheryl and I, and you can see us in a variety of shows including a whole half-second in the background crowd of an old RIver Cottage episode during the credits. I had my shorts on and Cheryl had on her hat and I don't wish to blow my own trumpet, but we pretty much made the entire show watchable through being so damn sexy. I'd add a photo but we'd probably break the internet.
"Dammit Jim, I'm a dog boarder, not a doctor!"
It was made clear at the course that only a vet can diagnose and treat an animal. What this first aid allows us to do, however, is get the dog into such a condition where we can get him to the vet for emergency treatment.
So, for example, if a dog starts to choke, the first aid gives us the knowledge and confidence to deal with this immediate problem and give us time to get him to a vet. There are very few times where a choking dog will survive a car journey to the vets without immediate on-site care.
The Course Content
A range of likely scenarios were covered, including choking, bandaging a wound, blood loss and safe removal of ticks - we even bought a shiny new tick remover which looks ferocious!
A particularly good tip which I feel obligated to share for the health of dogs and vets everywhere was muzzle training.
The idea of muzzles can seem somewhat cruel and restrictive, but only if they are used in a poor way and instead of training your dog correctly. Often, when a dog is taken to the vets in pain, their initial reaction is to strike out and bite. It is therefore safer for everyone involved if the dog is muzzled, but if this is a new experience to your dog - and in addition to the trauma and pain they are going through - it is one more thing to worry about.
The solution? Muzzle training. Slowly acclimatise your dog to a muzzle, using positive reinforcement and high-value treats to show them it is a good thing. If you would like to find out more, I'd highly recommend your first stop being the Rhodes 2 Safety blog on muzzle acceptance, which takes you through the steps with video.
Is Canine First Aid Worth It?
We had a great time at the class and met loads of like-minded dog lovers. Having the knowledge is a comfort, and has increased our confidence of dealing with dog emergencies, which puts our mind at ease and, hopefully, those of our customers. Is it worth it? Absolutely.
Also, we got to bandage each other and pretend to be Power Rangers at a 1980s disco. How is that not most excellent?