Diego's Story: Why I Became an Instructor in Pet First Aid, CPR & Care Certification

by Jillian
(Los Angeles, CA, USA)

Diego, my little man.

Diego, my little man.

Diego, my little man.
Jillian and Angelbaby Sally
PetSaver class
Healthy Paws NASCAR

October 29, 2007


That was the day that altered my future.

It started out as typical as any other day. I was greeted enthusiastically by my seven-year-old mini Dachshund, Diego.

We both had doctor's appointments: Diego for routine Dog Dental Care and Teeth Cleaning and I had an Eye Care Exam.

We arrived at the vet's at the required time – 9am. Anytime anesthesia is used there is a risk of complications, so I always opt to have the most extensive pre-tests done to insure Diego is in the best Health . There were no problems...Diego was in perfect health.

According to protocol, I could have picked Diego up at 2pm, but due to my appointment I was unable to return to the vet's until 5pm. Putting him out for this procedure always unnerved me, so having to wait an additional three hours to pick him up was torturous! To make things worse, there had apparently been an emergency with another dog, and I had to wait 30 minutes before they brought Diego to me.

When the vet tech did bring Diego out, he still seemed heavily sedated. I asked why he was so cold. The tech dismissed my concerns saying "he's just coming off the anesthesia." It didn't seem right to me...he'd never been this groggy ever before, and considering he'd had the extra three hours to recover, I expected him to be a little sleepy, but almost back to normal. But...I was not the expert, so I didn't question her any further.

All the way to my dad's house I felt anxious about Diego's condition. I was trying to convince myself that I was just over-reacting, but when I got home, my dad took one look at Diego and said "he doesn't look right!" I called the vet, but the call went to voice mail.

I was panicked.

I kept calling until someone answered.

I explained that Diego was unresponsive and having trouble breathing. She instructed me to give him the antibiotic they sent with me. I couldn't believe it! I told her there was no way he could swallow a pill...he couldn't even swallow water!

Then she said she had to talk to the doctor and I should call back in five minutes. As absurd as this was, I did exactly what she said. When I called again she told me to bring Diego back. At this point I was frantic. I wasn't able to drive, so my dad drove while I held Diego in my lap.

Half way back to the vet's, Diego went limp and stopped breathing. I was sobbing and praying; my dad was running red lights. In desperation, I mistakenly blew into Diego's mouth. Once we got back to the vet's, they worked on him for half an hour, but it was too late. My sweet Diego, my closest companion and beloved pet, was gone.

I was distraught. That was the worst day of my life. I couldn't sleep for weeks. I blamed myself because I didn't know what to do to save him. I didn't know enough to question his condition before I took him from the vet's. I didn't know. I didn't know.

Afterwards, I decided to learn what I could have done to try to save Diego's life. I am now a certified Pet Tech instructor. My focus is training pet owners in Pet First Aid and CPR techniques.

Could this knowledge have saved Diego?

I'll never know. What I do know is that I will never again stand by helplessly and do nothing. I know that I can help other pet owners avoid the horror I experienced. I know that I can help others be prepared for the unexpected.

Diego's death altered my life, my future. Now I look forward to the day that first person calls to say that what I taught them helped to save the life of their pet. I teach pet first aid, CPR and care certification classes in the Los Angeles area. You can learn more about these classes and get the current class schedule at www.HealthyPawsLA.com. If you live outside the Los Angeles area, you can find an instructor in your area by visiting.

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