Buddy wasn’t looking too good. His breathing was rapid and his heart rate almost too fast to count; he could barely wag his tail. He was panting and he went belly down on the dirt in the shade. It was hot, maybe 90 degrees and the mid-afternoon southern Utah sun he and his owner had just been hiking in was brutal. Should we be worried about Buddy, a 50-or-so-pound lab mix? What would you do?
That’s where a new and unusual course – Wilderness Emergency Canine Care, offered by the CU School of Medicine’s Section of Wilderness and Environmental Medicine – comes in to play.
The class will be offered for the very first time on June 2 and then again on June 3.
“We know that Coloradans love two things: adventure and their dogs,” said Todd Miner, senior instructor in the section and the originator of the class. “There are a lot of wilderness first-aid classes for people, but none for their best friends, their dogs.”
With that in mind, Miner, along with longtime veterinarian Mary Wright, came up with a class for adventurers who head off-pavement with their dogs eagerly in tow.
Wright is a Colorado State University grad who has practiced in Colorado for decades and has treated family pets, police and SAR dogs, as well as a host of wild mammals. She was a natural to design and teach the class.
“We’re the ones who bring them out there; we need to be their first responders,” Wright said. “We want to give participants in the class enough skills to assess their dog, treat common and even some life-threatening issues, and know when and how best to evacuate a dog in serious distress.”
Topics covered in the class include prevention, assessment, wound care, ortho injuries, heat and cold illness, digestive issues and a host of other traumas and illnesses. The course is designed for anyone who ventures into the field with Fido — there are no prerequisites or no medical or veterinary knowledge is expected or needed.
Oh, and Buddy? He turned out to be just fine after a lot more water, a belly — almost bare, with very little fur — that was sprayed with water, and a long rest in the shade. A little knowledge can be most beneficial.