When CPR Class Pays Off


Long ago, in my previous married life, I was a Girl Scout leader for my youngest child and the girls her age at the elementary school.  I was supposed to get CPR training, so I went to the classes and got certified. 

Maybe someday I’ll need it while doing a scout activity.

As it turned out, I did need the training, but not for a human being.  Shortly after I had completed the classes, our miniature Dachshund, my son’s dog but really the family pet, started choking on a dog treat. We were in the large kitchen, me and my three young kids.

“Mom, Wiener is choking!” one of the kids cried.

This wouldn’t be the first time he got something stuck in his throat that he couldn’t swallow.

Muscle memory from the class kicked in. I hurried over to where Wiener was in distress, picked him up, laid him face down on my left forearm and struck him between the shoulder blades repeatedly with my right hand.

That was the instructed way to do the Heimlich maneuver on a baby. Wiener was our baby, only weighing ten pounds.

As the kids stood around me screaming, I kept striking Wiener’s back until the stuck treat dislodged and he spit it out.

Wiener was fine. The kids were fine. I was fine.  My training had saved the day.

I don’t know why I felt I had to be a girl scout leader, maybe because no one else wanted to do it and I wanted my youngest to have the same experience with Girl Scouts that her older sister had had.

In the end, their experiences were different. My oldest had hers independent of me. She went all the way and earned her Gold Award (equivalent to an Eagle Scout Award for Boy Scouts). She wrote her college essay about having to relocate a rattle snake during a Camporee she and her friend ran for younger scouts.

My youngest didn’t get that far. She stuck it out till the end of high school but never could get the hours in for the Gold Award.

Since my youngest was a late-life baby, I was much older than the other moms in the troop, whose daughters were first or second born. One mom was twenty years younger, a teenaged mom a decade before.

Girl Scouts is filled with competitive leaders, but my group of moms did not fit that description. They did the bare minimum and often tried to get out of even that.

One mom dropped off her two daughters at a meeting once, even though only one of them was in the troop. She didn’t ask ahead of time, either. The sisters fought the whole time.

Another mom tried to get out of her shift at the camporee, but I was cold and tired, and it was my turn to go home. I read her the riot act (she had signed up). She ended up spending the night with the girls, even though she didn’t want to.

Another mom had the girls sell baked goods in my town’s downtown, but she didn’t make the girls wear their uniform vests (they were in 8th grade), so no one knew they were scouts, and the girls didn’t sell much.

Another mom sent her daughter to a rainy camp-out weekend with no extra socks or shoes. The girl got soaked, and when I called Mom, she said, “Can’t she just borrow?”  I told her to come get her kid or bring the socks and shoes.

Being a scout leader was a steep learning curve.

At least it led me to the CPR class that saved Wiener Dog.

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