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A Google search helped save my dog’s life 12/27/2010

Posted by Derek Belt in Musings.
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I learned early in my relationship that the dog came with the girl. They were, as my wife said to me then, a package deal. I’m a huge fan now, but that wasn’t always the case. A rescue Chihuahua named Romey, this pup was kind of a laugher. She peed everywhere. She threw up on me once. And she was fat. Very fat. I can’t tell you how many times I got asked the question, “Is that a Chihuahua?” She looked more like a Dachshund to everyone else.

Then she almost died, I saved her life, and I couldn’t possibly imagine life without her. Funny how quickly things can change.

My wife was at school one night and it was just me and the dog on the couch. Romey’s lost nearly two pounds since I’ve known her, but it hasn’t been because of the exercise. She likes to sleep. A lot. At some point, she awoke from her slumber and headed into the kitchen for a quick bite. She worked on a chew stick, and I guess a small chunk of it broke off because she came running into the living room coughing and coughing. She just kept hacking and it was the most terrible sound.

When it first hit me that she was choking I almost lost it. It’s fascinating what flashes before your eyes in moments like this, and I couldn’t think of anything other than how sad my wife was going to be. This little dog means everything to her. I had to do something, but what could I do? I picked her up, massaged her tummy and neck, and poked my finger down her throat to try and lodge the piece free. I later learned this was not the correct course of action, but what else was I supposed to try at the time? Romey just kept coughing and coughing and her little eyes were so scared. My heart was racing. She was dying in my arms. When she jumped away from me and squiggled back behind the TV, my instincts told me this was pretty much the worst-case scenario. Animals tend to hide so they can be alone when they die, and I was running out of time.

I grabbed my laptop, Googled “my dog is choking” and spent about 30 seconds scanning the instructions that a few moments later would save my dog’s life. She had gone completely silent and was only breathing in spurts now. I moved the TV (it was really heavy but I was in Superman mode) and brought her gently out front. I held her in the position the website told me to—upright with her head angled upwards so that it was a straight shot from her mouth to her stomach—and began pushing just below the rib cage. A few pushes later and she coughed again. I think she sneezed a few times, and then she wrestled herself free. She darted into the bedroom and hid underneath the bed, which is where she goes when she knows she has done something wrong. I was beside myself at this point and coaxed her out lovingly. She spent the next few hours asleep by my side, and we haven’t parted ways since.

Looking back, I am proud of myself for staying calm and going for the computer when I did. There’s so much junk on the internet, but there is also life-changing advice like this. I wasn’t about to let Romey die on me. She is the most amazing little dog and we are thrilled to have her with us this Christmas. Sadly, that almost didn’t happen. But we are a family and Romey is a big part of that. Santa got her a new bed this year, and we are looking into pet insurance just in case. There is nothing I won’t do for my dog.

This is one package deal I am thrilled to be part of. And what a merry Christmas it was!


1. Kyla Duffy - 12/30/2010

You really are a superman! Way to stay calm in a serious emergency. Romey is lucky to have you. I can relate to the Chihuahua thing – never thought I would be a small dog person, either, but I’ve got Bostons now. The little guys often do have really big hearts. Have a great new year together – all of you!

2. Buffy Belt - 12/31/2010

Thank God you saved her!!! You guys are two peas in a pod now :)

3. Nikki Gler - 12/31/2010

Wow! Just to hear all the details of that story made me sad and scared and, of course, happy to know that Romey had you around to save her little life. What a lucky pup….and props to you for your quick thinking!

4. Sheryl - 12/31/2010

Heartwarming how a chubby little rescue puppy can become a tried and true member of the family. We hear stories of the great loyalty dogs have for their beloved humans, but all dog lovers know they’d do anything for that furry family member. It sounds like the digital age and your quick thinking really did save her little life. No wonder she hasn’t parted your side since! Here’s to a Happy New Year and many happy years for your family!

5. Lynn Nadin - 12/31/2010

This Romey is a very lucky dog! I love that the internet actually did give you the info you needed to stop the choking, and now I know what to do if this ever happens to my dog. I also understand the package deal, as my boyfriend has had to accept my dog as well. Once we love an animal nothing could ever get us to give them up.

6. Rich - 12/31/2010

Derek, what a great story! It brought tears to my eyes. Romey is a great little dog and has grown on me too, I am so glad you saved her. Love you guys, have a great 2011!

7. Derek Belt - 01/01/2011

Thanks to everyone for their support. I just got word that my story about Romey won second place in the Trupanion Pawliday Blog Contest. Very exciting and a great way to ring in the New Year. Thank you Trupanion, and thanks to Romey girl for being the best dog ever.

See the contest winners here.

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