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Joy of my heart
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There was a thread about this a few months ago, & I wanted to repost this article because it is so important:

(Unable to locate the author for permission to reprint this but I am certain there would be no objections for obvious reasons)

Please read this if you have a ball-crazy German Shepherd, Golden Retriever, Labrador, etc.

While I was talking on the phone, Sailor my 10-month-old German Shepherd, brought me his ball for a game of indoor catch. It was a hard rubber ball about tennis ball size. It had little raised dots of rubber. I was quite sure it was too large for there to be any danger of him swallowing it. I would toss it to him and he'd catch it on the fly. We must have done it thirty times when suddenly I looked at Sailor and saw that he was in great distress. I knew instantly that he must have gotten the ball stuck in his throat on the last toss. His head was down and he was trying to get it out but was unable to do so. I dropped the phone, not even taking one second to explain to the caller what was happening. I grabbed my dog and he wriggled free struggling to get air and free himself of the object lodged in his throat. I was wrestling him in his own fight for survival.

Three times I grabbed him and three times he got away from me. Finally I got him and pried open his mouth. Trying to get the ball out with my fingers- only seemed to cause it to slide further down in his throat. The poor animal was struggling to be free of me and to get air into his lungs again. The ball was now in his throat beyond reach, like an enormous Adam's apple. He had locked his teeth and was trying to swallow it. And of course he could not. By this time I am as desperate and frantic as he is. I live on the fifteenth floor of a pre-war building in mid- Manhattan. There is no vet in the building and none of my neighbors are at home. I know that by the time the elevator operator puts down his newspaper and saunters into the elevator and brings the old machine up 15 stories my beloved young dog will be near death. And then to go down again and try to find a cab that would take me and the dog to a vet or the Animal Medical Center... well, no creature on earth could go for that length of time without air and make it.

Never have I felt more alone and scared then I did at that moment. I knew that if couldn't figure out how to save him and do it quickly he was going to die. I grabbed onto him again, straddling him. I put my hand below the ball on the outside of his neck and gently worked the ball up his throat the way you would work a ball through a tube or out of the toe of a sock. It came up part way, but then Sailor eeled away again in his panic and struggle. I grabbed him again and threw him on the couch, again half straddling him to try and hold him. His teeth were clamped down, I seemed to need at least four hands and I only had two. I remember telling God I needed his help RIGHT NOW! I knew that time was running out and the thought of my beautiful young dog dying in my arms while I am powerless to help him gave me a feeling of despair I'd never known before. Again I tried to work the ball up his throat from the outside by squeezing it gently from beneath. Slowly but surely it rose up his throat. I pried his teeth open with my fingers and finally, holding his head against me and keeping one hand under the ball, I was able to reach into his mouth and grab the ball from the back of his throat and pull it out.

We sat there for a long time. He kept swallowing and was very quiet. Young as he was he seemed to know how close to death he had come. There was a fair amount of blood on my fingers and I wasn't sure whether it had come from his throat. I thought that perhaps his throat was tom so I took him to the vet immediately. The vet checked him out and found him to be okay, but gave him some antibiotics just in case. He told me that I had saved my dog's life. Most people, he said, try to get help and the dog dies on the way. They just can't get to help fast enough to save their dog. Usually, he said, when I see them they are already dead. I see a lot of golden retrievers with tennis balls that have died on the way.

Most of the blood had, I found out later, come from my own fingers that had taken a bit of a beating prying open those clamped sharp baby molars. My fingers were sore for days, but who cared I had my dog and he was alive! I started to warn other owners of big ball-happy dogs in Central Park. Some would respond with, "But he's never swallowed it before." Yes, well the first time could be the LAST time. It only takes one time for your dog to die. He may have caught it for years and then one day he catches it on the fly and it gets beyond his tongue and you can lose your dog.

Three weeks later a friend's German shepherd got a tennis ball caught in his throat. The dog is seven years old and has been retrieving tennis balls for years. It happened in Central Park and the NYPD happened to be close by and threw the dog in the patrol car and raced (sometimes literally over the sidewalk) to get it to the Animal Medical Center.

The dog was blue and almost gone when they pulled up at the Animal Medical Center. "What did they do?" I asked, expecting to hear about quick major surgery. "Oh, they just worked it up his throat from the outside and it popped right out!" said his owner. So why doesn't anyone tell owners about this? Everyone thinks that a tennis ball is safe.

I have heard that the Heimlich maneuver can be used to expel something lodged in a dog's throat. I don't know whether it was a method that might have worked. It is probably good to know as well. But I do know that a major animal hospital used the same method of working it up from the outside that I described. I think big dog owners should know this. Obviously one doesn't take animal medicine into one's own hands when there is a vet at one's elbow. But when your dog is for sure going to die if YOU don't DO something then it is good to know something you can do. Last week I heard that another Central Park dog died the same way. His owner tried to get the dog from the park into a cab and to a vet and he didn't make it.

That's why I wanted to share this, because many people are so panicked that they don't think to even try to work the ball up from the outside. I thought perhaps this might save a dog's life. Now all Sailor's balls are rope balls. They are tennis ball sized but there is a rope attached. One mail order company even sells ones that float. And the rope enables me to throw them further and Sailor gets a longer run.

This article impacted me in such a way that I put it on my website immediately & I threw out all their racketballs & replaced them with balls that are at least 3.25 inches or bigger. Here are the ones we play with regularly now. They are small enough to play fetch with, yet big enough to where they fill up their entire mouths-no way to swallow them. They are really cheap on Amazon (below). Like the author said, you never know when a fluke accident is going to occur so it's important that we eliminate as many dangers as possible (including the issue with collar strangulation).

http://www.amazon.com/Sergeants-Powzer-Glow-Ball-Assorted/dp/B000W7IE9K/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&s=home-garden&qid=1233282532&sr=8-2
 

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In the Moment
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How frightening !!!!! Who would have thought with the thousands of times we've thrown that sized ball. Glad the girls have gravitated to the tennis ball "stick" and frisbee.
 

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and Miss Riley and Jake
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Thanks for rerunning this post. I would have never imagined........! And who knows what my response to this situation would have been?
 

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The breeder we are getting a puppy from gave us a copy of this article. Scarry. I was going to buy one of those Go Do Go toys until I saw that. The breeder said her dogs still play with tennis balls but she is more careful & makes sure nothing smaller is around. Her point was if it should happen rather than trying to get to the vet, because it will take too long, work the ball out.
I am buying some of the larger size tennis balls from Kong. She also said her dogs like the Huck balls which you can get a large size.
THank you for posting so other s can see.
 

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Maryland
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Glad the woman kept her head about her.

We don't allow tennis ball sized balls in the house. I just found two packages of them that we've had for a couple of years, unopened. They got thrown away. All of ours are softball sized or larger...most are larger.

The smallest we have around outside are the small Jolly Balls with a Rope and they're 4.5" around. The dogs LOVE THEM...have great fun with them, and they float.

They come in 4.5", 6", and 8" (which is big, even for a Newf). Ours like the small and medium best! Theyr'e non-toxic:

http://toysandtreats.petedge.com/Jolly-Pets-Romp-and-Rolls-ZX8120.pro

By the way...in the photo the cardboard "packaging" and the tied up rope are still on the balls. When taken off, the ball is just a ball with a rope through it.

They also make a ball without a rope...but the dogs don't like it as much. The rope allows them to sling it around. LOL Same sizes:

http://toysandtreats.petedge.com/Jolly-Pet-Bounce-n-Play-ZT2545.pro

And these are great too...not quite as big, but too big for a Golden to swallow (I'm referring to the large one - 4.25", although the 3.25" one would probably be okay too) - also non-toxic.

With rope: http://www.planetdog.com/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=ORBEE W/ROPE

No rope: http://www.planetdog.com/ProductInfo.aspx?productid=ORBEE BALL
 

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Donna those are some great toy suggestions, we have a jolly ball (I think its medium size) and the dogs love it.. I know the dogs do have a rubber chuck-it ball out in the yard somewhere, I'm gonna go find it and get rid of it.
 

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"GO TARHEELS!!!"
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I had a VERY similar situation with my larger GSD when she was about 7 years old. Katie was insatiable when it came to playing ball and we had several tennis balls in the back yard for her to fetch. I'd been throwing for about 10 minutes when she jumped and grabbed the ball just like all the other times. This time, instead of immediately heading back to me, she just stood there with her head down facing away from me. I knew something was wrong. As I rushed to the back of the yard, I could see her wheezing for breath and I knew that she had the ball stuck in her throat. By the time I got there she had laid down and I grabbed her to pick her up and it must have done the same thing as the heimlich, as she coughed the ball back out. SCARED me practically to death! Once I knew she was alright, I immediately gathered up all their tennis balls and threw them out. Next time we were at the store I bought soft-balls (much larger!).

Mandy plays with tennis balls, but she is smaller than my GSDs were.

Thank you for posting this for all to see and heed.
 

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The only balls my shepherd likes are balls with the rope on them, thank goodness. He has little interest in tennis balls.

My golden is a small bitch and a tennis ball is quite large for her. I am amazed at the pics of other goldens with 2 or 3 balls in their mouths, Willow could never do that!

Thankyou for reminding us about the dangers and I am very glad that Sailor had a quick thinking owner.
 

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I decided to stick this thread for a weak or so. My goodness, I gould not finish the first post. These kinds of stories are so hard to digest. :( I know a puppy owner who suffered through a similar story involving a stick, and I want to be sure we do everything possible to avoid this.
 

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Social Therapy Dog
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I've seen folks allowing their dogs to play with GOLF balls their dogs found while out walking! I've tried to warn them about the dangers but most of the time they simply brush it off like "it will never happen to me". I can just hop eit never does. Thanks for the post, this was one of the reasons as a medic(corpman) when I was in the navy, I took a pet course on first aid where they actually taught the proper method of using the heimlich on large and small breed dogs. I was constantly worried as a pup that Amber would end up with some sort of object caught in her throat. Thanks for the post! I hope it at least makes people aware of how to manage to situation if it occurs since I imagine it would be tough to remove all tennis balls from dogs for whom the tennis ball is nothing short of an obsession.
 

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The heimlich is something good for all dog owners to know. There are different techniques for large dogs vs. small dogs. Thankfully, through working at the doggie daycare, I am certified CPR and dog first aid through the Red Cross. I would suggest anyone who can take a course!!
 

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My kids know that no "superballs" are allowed in my house for that reason. I always thought tennis balls would be safe. Thanks for sharing.
 

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So scary! Thanks for posting this if it ever happens I'll at least know what to do. Neither one of my girls are tennis ball obsessed but we do use them for fetch in the lake. I'll be picking up the ones with the rope from now on.
 
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