When Our Dogs Face Tragic Accidents


Last week, I received some tragic news from members of my extended family: their dog had choked to death on something, dying literally in their hands as they frantically tried to remove the object.

They have undoubtedly been blaming themselves and second-guessing themselves for the accident. I know they have gone over and over every single thing that happened that led up to the dog suddenly swallowing something whole that she had previously always chewed on nicely.

All I could tell them was how sorry I was, how much I could relate to everything they were going though, and to please try to not beat themselves up.

I still blame myself for not seeing a threat to my small dog, Tito, that ultimately caused his death.

I know a person who still tears up over the memory of accidentally backing over and killing his own dog almost 40 years ago. He’s still so full of regrets and “what ifs.”

I have a friend who let her dog off-leash on a college campus field that seemed like a terrific place for him to run – and he chased a flock of birds off the field and onto a road, where he got hit by a car and died shortly afterward on a veterinarian’s table.

I know someone whose dog died as a result of the melamine-poisoned foods in 2007. She still weeps over the fact that when her dog didn’t want to eat the food that ultimately caused his death, she “dressed it up” with tasty toppings to encourage him to eat more.

The anguish all of us have felt over these tragic accidents, perhaps, is instructive going forward – none of us will ever repeat any of the errors in knowledge or judgment or timing that we made.

But the fact remains, that bad things can happen even to good dog owners. And my family members are some of the best dog owners I know: generous, kind, educated, and deeply devoted to their own dogs and to their breed rescue.

I’m so sorry for their loss, and I know how awful it feels. I hope they feel better soon, but I also know it will take a while for the trauma to ease. I wish there was more that I could say.

Postscript: This will illustrate what kind of thoughtful people my family members are. I sent this post to them and asked for permission to publish it. They asked if I would add some first aid links – what a good idea, one * I * should have thought of – and they asked if I would consider posting a link to their breed rescue, in honor of Rosie. Done and done. I hope they can find some peace.

– Donate to the West Coast Boxer Rescue, in honor of Rosie

How to perform the Heimlich maneuver on a dog: Pet Education

How to Perform the Heimlich maneuver on a dog: PetMD’s instructions

How to perform CPR on a dog: Pet Education

How to perform CPR on a dog: PetMD