Feature: Dog devotees learn new first aid tricks

Casper the resuscitation dog
Casper the resuscitation dog

As a nation of animal lovers, us Brits would do anything for our furry pals. But if your beloved pooch got into a pickle, would you know what to do to help them?

If you want to be prepared, a doggy first aid course will teach you the skills you need to care for your dog if they get injured – and perhaps even cut out the need for a trip to the vets too.

Gosford Pets in Tring, which recently celebrated its third birthday in April, has successfully hosted two courses since Christmas and is now planning to hold more due to high demand.

The three-hour courses are run by business partners and dog-lovers Doug Sinclair and Lesley Wharton, of Just Pawfect Pet Services.

The pair offer both beginner and intermediate courses which together give animal-lovers the chance to learn how to help their pet in an emergency.

Doug, who lives in Tring, retired last year after 40 years in the South Central Ambulance Service, so thought he would channel his skills into helping his four-legged friends instead.

He qualified as an accredited Canine First Responder Instructor after a two-day training course in Birmingham, which meant he could begin teaching, and Lesley is qualified in all aspects of canine first aid.

Doug, who is mad about German Shepherds, said: “We teach owners basic first aid, like how to deal with sprains and strains, and bandaging and dressing wounds.

“A lot of people don’t know how to bandage a dog’s ears – you just fold them over the head and bandage around them.

“We also show owners how to examine a dog for injuries safely and carefully before they decide which treatment to give.”

Students first practice their new-found skills on stuffed toys, before moving on to Lesley’s German Shepherd Orion – a gentle giant who adores all the attention.

Gosford Pets owner Laura Bromiley, who has Staffordshire Bull Terriers Harvey and Nelly, said: “Everybody had a great time on the first two courses and we got some good feedback. I’ve got a couple of rooms at the back of the shop which are a perfect size for the job.

“It was really interesting to speak to all the owners about the problems they’d had. One lady said her dog was mauled by a muntjac.”

Students also get the chance to try out mouth-to-mouth resuscitation after Doug and Lesley invested in a state-of-the-art model named Casper, complete with inflatable lungs and a pulse to feel for.

Doug, who has German Shepherds Freya and Otis and Jack Russell Fred, said: “Dogs swallow things when they’re out and about, so we teach people the Heimlich manouvre so they can help their pet if they’re choking.”

Doug and Lesley also share advice on the foods poisonous to dogs, such as chocolate and raisins, and students go away with handouts as reminders.

Doug said: “We always say these courses are not instead of vet treatment, but they mean that you could treat your dog for minor things at home instead of taking them in.”

Gosford Pets is now taking bookings for an advanced course on Saturday, June 7, from 10am to 1.30pm and costing £35. To be eligible, you must have a certificate confirming you have completed the first course.

But if you missed out on the last beginner courses, don’t fear as there will be more in the near future. Costing £20, these include refreshments and a certificate of attendance which allows owners to continue onto the intermediate course if you so wish.

Doug and Lesley also offer pet sitting, pet taxi and pet ambulance services as well as the canine first aid courses.

For more information, visit Gosford Pets’ website here or Just Pawfect Pet Services’ site here.