Charlie let himself in the house. Silence greeted him as usual, but this time he felt relief. He didn’t want to talk to anyone. He’d already turned off his cell phone, tired of reading the same “I’m so sorry, Charlie. Try again next year.”
He dragged his tired body up the stairs and into his bedroom. After locking the door, he sat on his bed, grabbed one his pillows and squeezed it. A tear fought its way down his cheek and then another. In his mind, he heard Coach Ervin’s voice, “Charlie, I like you, but this isn’t your game.”
“NO!” He yelled as he threw the pillow at the picture on his desk. It wobbled and, for a second, he thought it would stay up, but it fell. Broken pieces of shattered glass spread over the wooden floor.
Charlie got up, maneuvered through the glass, and picked up the picture of his dad in his college uniform. His leg perfectly extended as he kicked a football.
The story of this picture was etched in Charlie’s heart and mind. Because of this field goal kick, his dad’s college team won the National Championship. Charlie’s dad wanted him to be a kicker, but he didn’t have the talent. His kicks were terrible. Each year, he tried out and each year, he failed.
Charlie whispered to the empty room. “What am I going say to Dad? He’s going to be so disappointed… again.” He lay down and buried his face into the leftover pillow and sobbed himself to sleep.
“Charlie, you home?” His mom’s voice woke him, but he didn’t answer. He heard her banging up the stairs in her clogs. She knocked hard on his door. “I need your help, Charlie. I found a dog. She might be dead.” The last words came out in a sob.
His mom was always finding strays and they always needed help. Charlie was good with animals. Before he was went to football camp, he’d spent last summer working for their vet, Dr. James.
Avoiding the broken glass, Charlie went to the door and unlocked it. It immediately flew open. His mom stood there with blood all over her hands and her clothing.
“Oh, Charlie, you got to come fast. A dog’s been run over. I don’t think she’s breathing.”
When he reached the dog, she was lying in a ditch by the road. She was a slim brown and white Australian Shepherd mix with fur matted by blood. Her eyes were closed. Charlie could see white bone sticking out of the dog’s front leg.
All the things he’d learned working with Dr. James began to click inside his head. First, he had to apply the ABC rule – airway, breathing and circulation. The dog didn’t seem to be visibly breathing. Charlie checked and found the dog’s heartbeat. It was slow and thready.
He put his head down on the dog’s chest, but couldn’t hear breathing or feel the chest rise. He looked into his mom’s worried eyes. He spoke to her firmly.
“Mom, I’m going to have to help her breathe. I need you to get blankets and call Dr. James. Tell him what’s going on and see if he’ll come.”
His mom stared at him. “Charlie, it’s not safe! You don’t even know this dog.”
“She’ll die if I don’t! Just get the blankets and make that call!” Charlie commanded as he moved in front of the dog.
He extended the dog’s head to be sure her airway was clear and carefully pulled her tongue out of the way, as he’d seen Dr. James do. Then, he put one hand under the dog’s jaw, keeping her mouth closed.
He swallowed his fear and placed his mouth over the dog’s nose and breathed twice. The dog’s chest rose. He removed his mouth and then repeated breathing for the dog. After a few minutes, she began to breathe on her own.
Trembling, but happy, Charlie watched the breathing steady. He whispered softly. “It’s okay, girl. I’m here. You’re going to okay.” Eventually, the dog lifted her head, but whined when she tried to get up.
Charlie pushed her back down and kept his voice calm and low as he said. “You have to lie down.” She seemed to understand and didn’t try to rise again. Charlie’s mom brought blankets and he put one over the dog’s shivering body.
“Why’s she shivering so much? It’s hot outside.” His mom asked as she placed another blanket on the dog.
“She’s in shock, Mom. Did you call Dr. James?”
“Yes, he’s coming as soon as he can. He’s bringing the van.”
Charlie continued to stroke the dog’s neck and speak to her until the vet arrived. Dr. James checked the dog and announced. “She needs surgery on the leg. We’ve got to go now.” They carefully lifted her into the back of the van.
The vet motioned for Charlie to get in with the dog. “I need you to keep her calm. This won’t be an easy trip.”
It wasn’t easy. Every bump made the dog whine, but she calmed as soon as Charlie spoke to her.
The surgery was successful. Dr. James told Charlie he was proud of him. He said the dog wouldn’t have survived if Charlie hadn’t taken immediate action.
A few days later, an older woman rang the doorbell. Charlie answered it. The woman smiled and said, “You must be Charlie. Dr. James said you saved Sasha’s life. Thank you.”
She reached out and hugged him, wetting his shirt with her tears. She told him Sasha had gotten out of the fenced yard when someone accidentally left the gate open. She said she didn’t know what she would have done if Sasha had died.
As she got up to leave, she turned to Charlie and spoke the words that would change his life, “You know, young man. You ought to seriously consider being a vet. You’ve obvious got a talent for it.”
* * * * *
Most of us know about giving CPR to people, but did you know you can give CPR to animals? It’s not very different than human CPR. If you want to know more, check out this site.