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Learning Pet First Aid Only Human

For the advancement of professional journalism, I gave mouth-to-snout resuscitation to a real live pit bull named Buddy.

Never fear. Buddy and I practiced “safe snout.” More on my debauchery later.

Blowing air down a mutt’s nasal passages is just one of many potentially life-saving procedures revealed at the Spokane Park and Recreation Department’s First Aid for Pets class.

A dozen animal lovers ponied up $19 tuition and braved the Tuesday night slush to attend this first-ever event at the Manito Veterinary Clinic, E2308 57th.

The evening was jam-packed with tidbits such as how to make bowser toss his Milk Bones. Such knowledge will come in handy should your beloved mastiff ever swallow something beastly.

Veterinarian Bob Slack, one of our teachers, said a dollop of salt dumped directly down a dog’s gullet will produce more spewing than a fraternity kegger.

Why, just the other day, Slack told the class for no apparent reason, he discovered his Labrador, Abby, in the queasy throes of a Pepto moment.

Out comes the old sodium shaker and Abby “throws up a rodent thaaaat long.” Slack held his fingers so far apart that it looked as if his pet upchucked a rat the size of Teddy Kennedy.

Putting together an animal first aid kit is yet another vital part of our training. Of all the items to stock, warned Slack’s partner, Dr. Vern Brock, “the rectal thermometer is the most important.”

Rectal thermometer? Little Timmy never did any of that stuff on “Lassie.”

Slack and Brock are experts in all sorts of fancy animal care including a black whiplike mechanism called an endoscope. This costly cousin of a roto-rooter is snaked down a sedated creature’s throat so that foreign objects can be plucked from dark inner recesses.

The doctors said their gastric fishing trips have reeled in plastic toys, nylons, needles still hooked to thread, garbage bags, rocks, tail fins from a ‘59 Pontiac. …

In pragmatic countries, dogs and cats are considered menu items.

Unfortunately, we Americans have Alpo for brains. We gladly spend our last nickel trying to prolong the lives of furry creatures who return our devotion by licking themselves in the most embarrassing places and then wantonly soiling our carpets.

This first aid meeting attracted a mixed litter of pet owners.

Darla Jeske lives on a farm with 11 cats. “My biggest is named Skeeter,” she said. “He’s 20 pounds and sometimes walks into Plaza, a half-mile away.”

With daughters off to college, Spokane’s Lucy Bates said life now centers on a 130-pound Newfoundland named Panda. “It’s like my third child,” she said.

The real star here is not Slack or Brock. It is Buddy, a 75-pound pit bull owned by clinic employee Margaret Ferrell.

Buddy is the Gumby of the canine world.

No matter how he was bandaged or tied or contorted, he just sat there, grinning.

At one point, Slack pulled Buddy’s upper lip over the dog’s eyebrows. Another time, Ferrell stuck her entire fist into Buddy’s gaping mouth.

Buddy remained the portrait of bliss. Buddy is apparently heavy into doggy bondage.

Even more unsettling is that Buddy sat still while I played his nose like a fluegelhorn.

Actually, I was performing CPR. I wasn’t going to do it until Slack challenged my manhood and said I’d be a wuss if I didn’t.

At the doctor’s instructions, I cupped my hand so my lips wouldn’t touch any dog nose.

Praying that Buddy didn’t decide to sneeze, I blew. My air traveled through Buddy’s nose and out his mouth, which made Buddy’s lips vibrate noisily like a small speedboat.

“Good boy,” the vet yelled, overjoyed. “Good joooob!”

I couldn’t tell if he was praising me or the mutt, but I licked his hand anyway.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color Photo

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