The instructor held up the head of a stuffed animal -- showing how to pull the tongue out first to extend the passageway -- and pretended to clamp her mouth down on the snout to make a tight seal.
"Two full breaths, check for the rise and fall of the chest," says Robyn Elman, a certified pet first aid teacher, during a recent class offered at Just Dogs! Gourmet in East Northport. Beyond basic pet cardiopulmonary resuscitation, Elman's classes cover tactics for responding to choking, poisoning, bleeding and shock, which are among the most common forms of pet injuries that lead to death.
FOR OWNERS -- AND HANDLERS
Among the students watching intently were veterinarian technicians and dog groomers, but also those outside the industry who just want to know how to save their own pet's life if something should go wrong.
Northport resident Joanne Mizvesky has two dogs. She went to school for dog grooming but was drawn to take the class more because of her dog that died three years ago.
"We think he swallowed a pine-cone," she says. "I feel very guilty. I thought that maybe, in the back of my head, that if I had known it . . . I could have at least tried it."
Doreen Murphy, a retired teacher from Commack who now runs a dog-grooming business, had a close call just a week earlier when her Pomeranian began choking. While her pooch was OK, the experience showed her why it's important to be prepared -- not just for her own pets, but for those she grooms. "It's terrible to not know what to do," says Murphy.
WHAT YOU'LL LEARN
Each of the class participants had their own stuffed dog to work with, much like a human dummy is used in regular CPR and first aid classes. Students learned how to bandage a bleeding wound, muzzle an animal with a long strap and give chest compressions the correct way, among other lifesaving techniques.
Carol Donohue-Bernstein, an East Northport resident who owns a dog- training company, appreciated having a model dog on which to practice techniques. While she was schooled in pet CPR during her training, she says, "It is a completely different experience working on the stuffed dog. It really helps. . . . It's very hands-on."
Upcoming pet CPR and first aid classes
WHEN | WHERE 10 a.m.-2 p.m. April 14 at Fido Fitness Club, 910 Railroad Ave., Woodmere.
INFO 516-569-3647, inhomepetservices.com/pettech
WHEN | WHERE 9:30 a.m.-1:30 p.m. April 20 at Bideawee, 3300 Beltagh Ave., Wantagh.
INFO 718-347-7387, inhomepetservices.com/pettech
Top tips for pet crises
* Don't get in the middle of two dogs fighting. The best way to distract them is to spray them with a hose or water bottle.
* Auto accidents cause serious injuries -- whether animals are hit by cars or riding unrestrained in them. Use crates, carriers or belted harnesses to keep pets secured in vehicles.
* Any pet in pain could bite, even the most even-tempered. Protect yourself before you help the animal.
SOURCE: Robyn Elman, certified pet first aid teacher