VITAL SKILLS: Gordon Jones tried his hand at CPR on model Jerry, assisted by his own dog, Barney
VITAL SKILLS: Gordon Jones tried his hand at CPR on model Jerry, assisted by his own dog, Barney

DOG owners keen to learn skills they hope “never to have to put into practice” took part in a first aid course with a difference at Middleton-in-Teesdale.

The first ever Canine First Aid Course, organised by staff at Utass (Upper Teesdale Agricultural Support Services), was well attended with owners from across the dale eager to know how to look after their four-legged friends in the event of an accident.

The course run by veterinary nurse Helen Ward covered basic skills in first aid and how to apply them to dogs.

Ms Ward, who teaches part time at Askham Bryan College in York, began running the courses in October and has been surprised at how popular they have been dog owners across the region.

She said: “I’ve had a really good response from people since I started the courses. They’re not designed to replace going to the vets but to provide owners with some key skills which will help in case of an emergency.”

Pet owners got to practice how to bandage their pets, try out the Heimlich manoeuvre as well as mouth to mouth resuscitation and CPR.

No animals were hurt during the course as Ms Ward brought along Jerry, an anatomically correct, life-size training dummy.

The dummy, complete with airwaves and blood vessels enabled pet owners to confidently try the kiss of life and chest compressions. However, Barney the springer spaniel wanted to get in on the action as well, assisting owner Gordon Jones as he was practising. Fiona Goodman, who lives in Lunedale, said she was delighted with the course.

She added: “It is being able to be practical. We are so far away from the vets. Putting it into practice is not that different to first aid on a person. It’s about having the confidence to do it, if needed, and this is great.”

Sandra Wilkinson, from Bollihope, echoed her views, adding: “Being able to have the practice is invaluable and it’s a skill you hope you never have to use.”

Such was the enthusiasm for the course it is anticipated more will be added to the calendar in the coming months.