As a professional dog walker and full-time animal lover, there is no greater fear in the back of my mind than something bad happening to an animal. I'd like to think that I would do anything keep my dog-friends and clients safe. That being said, accidents happen. They happen with people, and they can certainly happen with our animals. Our pets can get injured while playing, get heatstroke or frostbite, bloat, have an allergic reaction or choke on a treat – the possibilities are, sadly, endless. So what can I and other animal caretakers do? We can do our best to prevent, and to be prepared. Last fall, I and a couple of the other One Leg Up Canine Co. dog walkers took a 10 hour Walk n Wags Pet First Aid course hosted at Scratch and Sniff Canine Services in downtown Guelph. This particular course certifies you for three years, at which time you need to retake the course in order to refresh and re-certify. The workshop was an intense day filled with a lot of information, hands-on practice, and a practical and written exam at the end. Simply attending the class isn't enough to obtain a certification – you have to participate and prove what you learned! That being said, our instructor (Lynda Kitson of K9 Compass) was invested in our success and was able to deliver the information in a way that each participant could understand. In her 4 years of teaching no one has ever failed her course. The day was broken down into sections; it started with an introduction to identifying and preventing illnesses and medical conditions, afterwards we moved on to recognizing signs of shock, allergies, poisonings, etc. After lunch we jumped into the hands-on side of things; we bandaged stuffed animals as though they were injured, and learned the proper technique for CPR and Airway Obstruction (choking). Many of the participants were interested to learn that while there are similarities to the techniques used on humans, there are aspects that only pertain to animals. There were two dummy dogs and a dummy cat that had inflatable lungs that we were able to practice on. We worked in pairs and role played as if these dummies were the real, injured, thing. Time and precision were critical! Thankfully, both dogs and the cat survived their harrowing experiences. For the practical portion of the exam we were each given a card with an incident written on it, and we had to bandage our stuffed animal in the proper order and technique suited to that situation. My poor pretend dog had been hit by a car and suffered several broken limbs. Then we had to present our cards and explain how and why we treated the situation like we did. Afterwards, we had the written exam. This was my 3rd time participating in this type of seminar, and I am always incredibly grateful to get the chance to refresh my knowledge and re-certify. Just like in the human first aid classes, protocols change over time, and it is so important to know the updated, proper way to perform these procedures. I’m proud to say that all of us from One Leg Up Canine Co. aced our examinations, and the entire class of participants earned their certifications. A successful (and fun!) workshop!