Boo the black Lab owes his life to Karla Toppen and her knack for mouth-to-snout resuscitation.
Toppen and Amber Cordes work at Doggie Business, a pet day care in Holmen where Boo and his best friend Hobbes, a golden retriever, like to rollick. But one day in November as the dogs played, Boo’s thick leather collar became twisted around Hobbes’ back teeth.
Cordes and Toppen heard a squeal and rushed into the room to find Hobbes and Boo panicked and struggling to untangle. The women tried to free the dogs, but it was too late — Boo was unconscious and not breathing.
“I felt his body become more and more limp and his heart rate slow way down,” Cordes said.
She could hardly feel a heartbeat by the time they managed to free the dogs.
That’s when the women sprang into action. Toppen blew into Boo’s nose while Cordes administered chest compressions.
“It was the scariest moment of my career,” Toppen said.
After what “felt like forever,” Boo finally coughed. He licked Cordes’ face.
“It was the best feeling I have ever had,” Cordes said. “I don’t know if there is any more rewarding feeling.”
Cordes and Toppen took a pet CPR class from the American Red Cross over the summer. They never expected to actually use the skills.
Boo’s owner Tracy Barrett is thankful they did. Red Cross chapters around the country have been offering pet CPR classes for years. Besides teaching mouth-to-snout resuscitation, the courses offer general animal-health tips and show pet owners the basics of animal first aid.
“I had never thought to ask if they knew it or even that something like that existed,” Barrett said. “That was just so absolutely wonderful.”
In the end, Boo went home to his family tired but otherwise in perfect health, much to Barrett’s relief.
“He’s not just a dog,” Barrett said. “He’s like a kid.”
One very lucky to be alive.