A Calvert woman claims her 2-year-old golden retriever saved her life Friday by giving her the canine version of the Heimlich maneuver.
“The doctor said I probably wouldn’t be here without Toby,” said Debbie Parkhurst, 45, a jewelry artist who lives near Rising Sun High School with her husband, Kevin, and their two dogs. “I keep looking at him and saying ‘You’re amazing.’”
Parkhurst said she was home alone with the dogs Friday afternoon when she decided to snack on an apple.
Suddenly, she said, a chunk of the fruit became wedged in her windpipe.
“It was lodged pretty tight because I couldn’t breathe,” she said. “I tried to do the thing where you lean over a chair and give yourself the Heimlich, but it didn’t work.”
Parkhurst said she then began beating her chest, an action that might have attracted Toby’s attention.
“The next think I know, Toby’s up on his hind feet and he’s got his front paws on my shoulders,” she recalled. “He pushed me to the ground, and once I was on my back, he began jumping up and down on my chest.”
Toby’s jumping apparently managed to dislodge the apple from Parkhurst’s windpipe.
“As soon as I started breathing, he stopped and began licking my face, as if to keep me from passing out,” she said.
A friend soon arrived and, after witnessing the canine rescue, drove Parkhurst to the doctor’s office.
“I, literally, have pawprint-shaped bruises on my chest,” Parkhurst said. “I’m still a little hoarse, but otherwise, I’m OK.”
At first, Parkhurst thought Toby was simply trying to play.
Now she believes the golden retriever that she and her husband rescued from a Dumpster knew exactly what he was doing.
“I know it sounds a little weird, but I think he had a sense of what was happening,” Parkhurst said Monday. “Of all the dogs in the world, I never would have expected this goofy one here to know the Heimlich.”
As strange as Parkhurst’s story might sound, Toby’s actions actually followed the emergency measures recommended for choking victims by the American Heart Association and the American Red Cross.
Both agencies recommend first aid responders use a series of five back blows followed by a series of five abdominal thrusts, otherwise known as the “five and five.”
“I have no idea where he learned it from,” Parkhurst said. “But can tell you that I’m going to peel and mash my apples from now on.”