Last Saturday, I heard a CRACK.
How Maisie found something in the flat dusty path is beyond me, but I immediately grabbed her bottom jaw with my left hand and I put my thumb across her tongue and teeth, just behind her incisors (her bottom fangs); this way she can't wiggle loose. Next I get down for a look and I gently pull out the bone. I run a finger along her cheeks to check for any splintered pieces. But lo and behold, just as I am about throw away the confiscated bone, she somehow finds another bone on the ground and I hear a second CRACK. And I'm back at it. I pull out the second bone and I marvel at the sharp edge on this one. Yikes.
- Keep your ears open. You could be watching your dog's every move, but you sometimes won't see the bone first. You'll hear it. If you wear headphones, you will miss your one chance to pull the dangerous bit of bone out of your dog's mouth. That might just $$cost$$ you a visit to the Vet.
- Be QUICK. Get a firm hold on the dog's lower jaw and carefully pull out the bone. Don't panic. If you're calm, the dog will be calm.
- Bring a flashlight during sunset and night time walks. The flashlight is essential in navigating around hazards like discarded food wrappers, other dogs' poop, broken glass, bones, uneven sidewalks, tree roots, icy spots, and potholes. The flashlight also helps cars and other dog walkers see you, so you don't have a surprise automobile or canine encounter. That's never fun. And of course flashlights are very handy in locating your dog's poop for pick up. Oh I think every dog owner has at one time step in his or her dog's poop after losing sight of it in the dark. Yep, nothing ruins a nice star-filled evening stroll with Fido than tracking that shit back home. ; D And should your doggie step on something sharp and develop a limp, your flashlight will help you find that metal or piece of glass in his hairy paw quick, even in daytime. How? The flashlight will make glass or metal sparkle and easy to find. And now you know you'll also need the flashlight if your dog chomps on a bone and you need to pull that sucker out before he swallows it. God forbid you go in blind and accidentally push the bone further into his throat. If you can't see it, get into better light or use a flashlight. Don't panic. Put your fingers in and feel around for it. Get a firm grip and pull that sucker out. And DON'T throw it on the ground. Believe me, your dog will try to eat it again.
- Keep a fast pace. A trot or quick walk will keep your dog from snarfing up anything. But dogs do love to stop and sniff, right? So let them. Just be ready...and
- Know it's going to happen. Make sure your dog is comfortable with you opening his or her mouth and pulling something out. Do it when you don't need to, so in an emergency your dog won't fight you.
The American Red Cross' Dog First Aid book details what is essentially a Heimlich Maneuver on dogs. Rather than go into detail here, I'll direct you to the book, which has photos demonstrating how it should be done without harming the dog.
You should also check out The Red Cross' Pet First Aid App available for the iPhone and Android. It's just $.99. It's not likely you'll have a first aid book with you on your walk, so the app on your phone will be a life-saver.
Red Cross' Pet First Aid App Features:
I also recommend taking one of American Red Cross' first aid classes. They're available in your area. Just select Pet First Aid and do your search. If nothing comes up in the search, you might have to widen your search to 20-30 miles. The class will cost you about $70, but it's nice to get some hands on training and the price includes their first aid book with a DVD.
The First Aid Companion for Dogs and Cats is a Kindle version. This book has 88 reviews and five stars. You can't go wrong with that.
AND LAST BUT NOT LEAST: I have a bone to pick
I know some people blame humans for the chicken bones and the like left in the park. They either imagine super evil people, who grow giddy at the thought of making a dog choke to death, or they think certain groups of people are "just slobs." Anyway, it's my firm belief that it's not humans. Sure there might be the occasional BBQ bone that didn't land in the garbage can, but it's more likely that rats or birds pull these bones out of the garbage and were scared off before they could take their goodie home. In any case, just keep an eye and ear out for the crunchy stuff while your furry little snarf-a-lot is on the hunt.