Monday, February 4, 2013

KAYA'S BRUSH WITH DEATH

I wrote this post one day last Fall, but never published it. However, I think of that day often and how different it could have turned out. I think about how life is short and to enjoy each day with my dogs...


SATURDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2012

I almost lost my Little Baby today. I am forever grateful that this turned into a crazy story instead of one of the worst days of my life.

I've been spending some time at my mom's house in Tahoe and unlike my tiny backyard in Oakland, here Kaya & Norman have a big backyard which they love to run around, play and wrestle in. They'll spend the entire day tearing around out there and they get up way earlier than they do at home, making a beeline for the back door first thing in the morning. This summer they have gotten the chance to bond with my mom's dog, Zoey. Zoey has severe dog aggression but for some reason she's decided Kaya & Norman are fine by her. She loves going on hikes with them, playing fetch with Kaya and she doesn't even mind having them in the house or yard with her. I carefully watched them for weeks and she seemed to always enjoy lying on the sidelines while they run and play, so I finally started leaving them alone outside as long as we were home.

Kaya & Zoey playing at the beach.

Enjoying the yard.

This morning, my mom and I were inside upstairs and the dogs were out back playing as usual, but we had the screen door open so we could hear them. All of a sudden there was a high-pitched scream coming from one of the dogs. I immediately thought, Oh my god, Zoey finally went after one of them. And being that she is a 90-pound German Shepherd it would not be pretty. I ran outside and quickly looked over the deck, I was shocked when I saw Kaya & Norman locked onto each other in the middle of the yard while Zoey was nowhere in sight. One of them was still screaming but I couldn't tell who.

Zoey minding her own business.

As I ran down the steps, something in me knew not to yell out to them. They've never even shared a sideways glance at each other, there was no way they were fighting. There was something very wrong.

As I got close, I realized that Norman had his lower jaw caught in Kaya's collar. Both of them were terrified, trying to get free. They were pulling in opposite directions which was making it so much worse. The collar was completely wrapped around Norman's mouth, like a figure eight and it was digging into his gums. The other part was slicing into Kaya's neck, cutting off her breathing. I dropped to the ground, held onto each of them and did my best to calm them down. They were both completely panicking as I repeated shhhhhhhh over and over. It took about a minute to calm them down, but it felt like a lifetime. A couple times, they calmed down and then panicked again. Kaya had on a regular nylon collar with a plastic quick release so I tried to release it, but it was pulled so tight, it wouldn't budge. And Kaya was still screaming. She sounded more like a child than a dog.

My mom called out and I asked her to bring scissors. A neighbor heard the commotion and ran over to our fence. He tried to offer help. My mom tried to cut the collar but she couldn't even fit the scissor under it without cutting into her neck. Kaya had stopped screaming by now and both dogs were holding still, but time was ticking. Norman's gums were bleeding and Kaya was being strangled by the collar. I had to get the collar off right away so I tried once more to release the plastic buckle, but it was so slippery from their rough play in the wet grass. And the pieces were pulling so hard in opposite directions, that it was near impossible to press. Thankfully, it eventually worked and her collar was off, but she fell to the ground like a dead weight. She wasn't breathing. Her gums were blue and she wasn't responding. I kept calling her name, patting her on her side and shaking her like I was trying to snap her out of it.

And so I sat there, in my pjs and bare feet in the muddy grass, holding my dying dog. In that moment, as chaotic as it was, I had this split second vision that this would be her last day and we would be burying her today. I saw a blur of our whole crazy first year together, all the cuddles and adventures, all the playtime and training, the frustration and love. I didn't want them to turn into fleeting memories of the dog I never got to watch grow.


Both my mom and I were both in shock so thank god our neighbor, who was still watching from outside the fence, said to breathe into her nose. I did it 3 times and each time the air seemed to go right back out of her mouth. I tried again and again. Her eyes started to move around a little bit, but she still didn't seem to be breathing. I thought it might just be a weird reflex. I did it a few more times, her eyes were moving more, then she started to choke and gasp for air.

It was the biggest relief when I could see her chest rising and she was breathing again. It took her a couple minutes to recover, but she seemed just fine. My mom brought her some water. Her neck was raw and cut up a little. Norman had left the scene a soon as the collar was free. He was nervous and confused. I called him over and he gave Kaya a kiss and she kissed him back, but he was eager to walk away again. He was definitely more shook up than Kaya. I think he felt like he was in trouble and had done something really wrong. I kept re-assuring him that everything was okay and gave him lots of hugs. Even Zoey came over to check on Kaya and shared some water with her, I haven't seen Zoey do that since she was a puppy about 9 years ago.


We brought them up to the deck and in typical Kaya fashion, she wasn't even phased. She was standing there wagging her tail and I had to tell her to lie down. She gave me a look like why the heck would I lie down when there is so much fun going on our there without me? She finally gave in and chewed on her bone.

Play! No? Sleep? Nah! Bone? Okay...

The collar is still in one piece, but it's going in the trash. It's got bad karma now.

Norman was still a bit concerned though. He kept to himself for a little while which was so sad. I've never seen him act that way before.

Poor sad guy:(

They took a short nap and then it was business as usual...hiking, swimming and just being dogs again, like it never happened.


It was a lesson learned, I will never let them play with their collars on again! And though I always thought it was for their safety to have their tags on when outside or home alone, I won't ever leave them alone with their collars on again. I can't even imagine the scene we would have found if we weren't there when this happened:( That being said, I am so proud of my dogs for not turning on each other when they were so frightened and in great pain. And I'm so relieved that they were able to trust me enough to calm down and let me help them when all their natural instincts probably told them to keep trying to separate.


I don't know what we would do without Kaya in our lives. Norman would be so so sad if something happened to his big sister, his partner in crime, and his very best friend. Being the dare-devil that she is, I would not be surprised if this wasn't Kaya's last brush with death, but I really hope it is!

Well-deserved cuddles at the end of the day.

And the nest day it was business as usual:)

Though Kaya and Norman's play style, personalities and connection remained the same as always, a few days later, Kaya's neck wounds started to show. I put some neosporin on them, but she never seemed to mind and they healed quickly. Much quicker than the images burned in my memory.

Kaya didn't care about her cuts, but she did care if I was every going to throw the ball over her head in this picture.

Kaya borrowed the cute crab collar from Zoey. It was too big, but that worked out well because it sat below her cuts.

Has anyone else had any close calls with their dog?

Relates Posts:
A Year with Kaya
Kaya's 1st Birthday!!
Kaya to the Rescue!
Pitties Explore Lake Tahoe

38 comments:

  1. That is one of the most terrifying posts I have ever read. I am SO glad that things turned out okay in the end. I have to say that I am really surprised (but glad) that Zoey didn't get involved. My heart was pounding as I was reading, even knowing that there wasn't a horrible outcome.

    Our pack never ever wear collars at home, only when they are out and about. my first ACD was a former show dog who never wore a collar due to the handler/owner not wanting the fur matted down and I just kept with that. One weird thing that happened was Hiker getting her dew claw caught in the ring of her ID tag while we were hiking.

    That backyard looks amazing! We have a huge yard but not as forested as that. Again, so glad things turned out okay.

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    1. Yes, I forgot to write in the post that I am also really relieved that Zoey stayed true to her word and acted like a great "aunty" to them:)

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  2. Oh my god! How awful!!! I can't even imagine how you must have felt in that situation! It's amazing that Kaya came back so quickly after the oxogen you gave her. I have also heared horor stories about collars getting stuck in a dogs mouth but the other dog was ok. This makes me think about putting quick release collars on my dogs during play and taking them off during rough play. Your story has scared the crap out of me! But I'm glad they are ok now!

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    1. I'm going to look into quick release collars too!

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  3. Wow (way to make me cry)! The pooches almost always have their collars on - I've always been afraid of them getting out somehow and not having ID (although, they are both microchipped).

    It's experiences like that (and hearing about them) that make you value each day with our pets. Although I wish you'd never had to experience that, it's a great lesson!

    I also particularly love how Kaya was ready to go right after - that in itself is a lesson of resiliency! And Norman...what a sensitive soul!

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    1. Me too. My dogs once got out without collars when a pet sitter was watching them and they ended up at the shelter. They scanned them for microchips and they made it home safe. After that I thought they should always wear their collars outside, but since this happened, I only put their collars on when I take them out.

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  4. I nearly started crying in the middle of this post. Kudos to you for handling the situation well and giving your dogs the love and confidence in you to know you'd help. I have never had a situation with Ray like that and hope I never do. I had a crazy situation with a kitten once that worked out, but was terrifying at the time.

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    1. It's so weird to see your exuberant dog be so helpless:(

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  5. How scary. I always take my dogs' collars off at home, but they wear them at the park when they play. I wonder if a quick release collar, like the ones they have for cats, would be a good idea. I know some dog daycares require dogs wear those if they have a collar on, so it just pulls loose if something like this happens.

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    1. I never knew there were quick release collars for dogs too but I will have to look into it! They still wrestle with their collars on when we're at the park or hikes, but I keep a close eye on them and always worry about it. I wonder if they need collars at all since they never run off.

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  6. Oh my word - how terrifying! Thank goodness for your quick thinking and the quick thinking of your mom and neighbor! I am so glad Kaya and Norman are both okay and relatively unscathed. Thank you for sharing....

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    1. I honestly don't know if it would have came to us if the neighbor didn't tell me what to do. The weirdest thing was that he rents his house out and in 10 years, that is the only time I have ever met him. Lucky coincidence!

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  7. That really is scary. You handled the situation really well considering everything that was happening. I'm so glad that it turned out OK.

    The pictures of Norman afterward just break my heart, it really does look like he thinks he did something wrong which of course he didn't.

    It makes me think twice about leaving Boomer and Dottie's collars on them.

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    1. If they wrestle while you aren't home I would say, leave them off!

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    2. I'm still thinking about this post, in fact I've written a little something about it. I hope you'll check my blog on Monday and join in whatever discussion comes up if any?

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  8. OMG, that is awful! I don't know how I would have handled that situation. It's so good that they listened to you and you knew how to get them to calm down! I had heard stories about dogs getting caught on each others collars, so we keep them off at all times when at home, especially if we have a foster that Nola plays rough with. It makes me a little nervous, because I have also heard the opposite, to keep them on them in case they run off, get spooked, etc. So it's kind of a toss up. Your story made me cry, but I am so happy they are all right!

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    1. I would say for dogs that rough play, no collars is the way to go! I'm always working with their training so they know not to run out doors or gates without permission, but obviously with fosters that's a lot to ask!

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  9. Oh, this was such a scary story! Thank goodness you were there and thank goodness Kaya and Norman were so good and trusting. It is just too awful to think what might have happened...

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  10. Oh my gosh, I was on the edge of my seat reading this. I am SO glad things turned out okay and everyone is healing. How scary and to think what might have happened had you not been around. I am so relieved for you!

    Oink oink,
    Katie and Coccolino the mini pig

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  11. The first time this situation happened to me was while working at the doggy daycare in Chicago. Two dogs got tangled up the exact same way. The english setter was literally turning blue, and we could NOT get his collar off no matter what. We finally managed to get a pair of scissors between him and his collar and he was a-ok.

    I am so glad both of your pups are ok. And I totally agree - how incredibly that neither of them got "angry" with the other - it's almost like they knew this was much more serious than they could comprehend. I can't imagine how tough that was to go thru :(

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    1. I think it should be a rule for all doggy daycares to require no collars during rough play! I think a lot of dogs that don't know each other as well or who were less compatible would have gone after each other.

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  12. That is so scary! So glad everything turned out okay. Norman looked so sad, poor boy. Funny how Kaya bounced right back.

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  13. How horrifying! I have had a near death experience with one of mine too. Water mocassin bite! I think I am going to have to follow suit and write a post about that experience too. SO glad Kaya is ok and everything turned out the way it did.

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    1. I don't know what a water moccasin is, but it sounds scary! Where is your blog?

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  14. That is absolutely TERRIFYING!!!!!!!!What a miracle the neighbor came along! Now, God forbid anything should happen, I will never forget to breath into a dog's nose.
    And poor poor Norman!

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  15. As I was reading your story my stomache was turning over and over because I knew when I read the first line exactly what you were going to say had happened. I've been in your exact shoes. Luckily for me the results were not nearly as scary the lack of air was not nearly as bad as what you dealt with. But the exact same situation, two of the pups playing happily together and thenNoah's jaw caught in Baby Girl's collar. You were so much calmer than me. I'm ashamed to say I simply panicked. It's crazy how many thoughts can run through your head at once. I have a couple of pups that will lash out at each other anytime there is over stimulation in the group and I was worried about them all at the same time. I had to leave Noah and Baby Girl to run to the kitchen for scissors but like you they were pulled so tight I couldn't even get the scissors under the collar. In hindsight I wouldn't have been able to cut through that collar anyway! To tell you the honest truth I don't know how I got the collar off of Baby Girl, it's all a blur. Like you the collar was still intact at the end so I must have got the quick release undone but I don't remember it happening. I only know I was panicked. We were all crying when it was over and like Norman they were both very subdued after the fact. I think everyone was confused. And as a side note everyone else was on their best behavior no arguements broke out at all.....it could have been so much worse but I hope to never go through that again. For awhile I removed their collars but they have access to a doggie door during the day and I decided I could not take the chance of them getting out without their collars. Sorry this was long but it really struck a cord with me. I'm sorry you went through that I can tell you that's it's something you never forget! It's been 3 years for me and I remember it like it was yesterday!

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    1. Thanks for sharing, it is so scary and yes, the whole thing was like a blur. That's great that your dogs handled it well also, what a relief! I did a search for breakaway collars after it happened but ultimately decided they would be fine with no collars at home, but maybe it would be good for your pups since they need their collars on.

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  16. What a horrible thing to have happen. I confess that I cried at the picture of Norman in the corner. Poor guy.

    Silas does wear his collar all the time, but he's an only dog so I don't worry.

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  17. Oh my gosh! So first of all, I just wrote a "close call" post and I never even read this. WOW!
    So anyway, I had been urged when first adopting a second dog to never allow them to play with collars on though we do all the time. I actually know someone who had this happen and she got bit by the dog because they panicked when she went to help.
    It makes me sick just to have read that for what a terribly horrifying experience for you. And poor sensitive Norman, I'm sure he was totally freaked out. So glad this didn't end terribly.

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  18. So scary. Due to Mesa and Baily's love of tugging on collars we rarely have them on in the house for that exact reason

    Stop on by for a visit
    Kari
    http://dogisgodinreverse.com

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  19. Oh my gosh. How scary! Almost makes me want to cry thinking of you and your poor dogs. You really described it well, and I too am proud of them for not turning on each other when they were hurting and scared. Good for your mom's dog, too. Sometimes that type of excitement can really trigger the wrong behaviors. So good job to all of them. I'm so glad Kaya is OK. Ace has the same type of collar Kaya had on. I see others have mentioned the breakaway style collars. I guess that's an option for us all to think about.

    Glad all is well!

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  20. What an awful situation. I'm so glad that Kaya and Norman are OK- what a pair of troopers to be so calm towards the end so you could free them! And well done to you for being so calm. It must be so distressing to see your pups in pain and being confused. Thanks for sharing this story. I will definitely rethink having Del's collar on when playing with his friends.

    Rach

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  21. Wow, this is so scary. I can't imagine what that was like. I never would have thought collars could get stuck like that. Fortunately our little Chick isn't really into play time with other pups, but if we get a bigger dog this is definitely something to think about. So glad everyone is okay!

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  22. Holy crap. I never put collars on our cats because I fear they'll be jumping a fence and the collar will get caught, strangling them. It never occurred to me that the collar would get my dog in trouble. Thank you for sharing your story!
    www.dogtreatweb.com

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    1. I do keep a safety collar on my cat, it releases if there's too much tension. It must work because sometimes she comes home without it. It would be a good idea for dogs too!

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  23. OMG how scary! I'm glad everything turned out okay in the end.

    We bought a Premier Playsafe collar for Toby after hearing another story just like this. It has velcro that you can rip open and the collar will literally come apart. If we ever have a situation where he'll be allowed to play with another dog unsupervised (or minimally supervised), he'll go naked.

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    1. Good idea! Glad your pup will be safe during play:)

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