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The dogs are in, out and all over the place
Shag & Wag to present K9 CPR; animal first aid course
Heather Christopher plays with some of the dogs she cares for at Shag & Wag K9 Country Club near Argyle. Along with husband Dan, the club is hosting a K9 CPR and animal first aid class on March 10. It’s also a fundraiser for Hopeful Hearts animal charity. - photo by Gary Mays

ARGYLE — It’s a bright late-winter day near Argyle, and Heather Christopher has let the dogs out — something like 10 of them, all here for doggy day care at Shag & Wag K9 Country Club. 

The owners of the animals enjoy knowing their dogs are well-cared for, can go inside and outside and have plenty of other dog pals to play with. But one of the things they also enjoy is peace of mind — knowing that their caregiver, the intrepid Christopher, 53, and her husband/co-owner Dan, 60, are trained in K9 CPR and Pet First Aid.

“It’s so good to know what to do and really what to look for,” said Christopher. “Accidents can happen and you want to be prepared.”

With that goal in mind, they are helping to train the public in pet first aid during a special session scheduled from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. March 10 at their clean, modern facility, 17471 Valley Road, just outside of town. Registration is encouraged, and the event is also a fundraiser for the Hopeful Hearts charity, a non-profit animal rescue service that provides a vital lifeline for animals in the Lafayette County and nearby areas.

Heather Christopher and Dan, an ex-Marine, have been involved in pet and animal care for the duration of their 30-year marriage. The Hazel Green native started as a groomer and a vet tech, and her interest in the business flourished even more when the pair moved back to Wisconsin, she said.

Now she offers everything in one spot, grooming, pet day care and boarding; and now classes in CPR and safety. The move to this type of business follows a pattern in society writ large — as Christopher said humans are getting closer than ever to their pets as a member of the family. 

Still, she said, it takes a certain type of area — one especially committed to animals — to make Shag & Wag work. Same goes for the upcoming CPR classes, which incidentally are not limited to just dog owners. Plenty of cat owners also can benefit from such knowledge, experts say.

“I didn’t think (the business) would fly as much in this small of a town,” said Heather. “But it really has, and we couldn’t be happier to be doing it.”

The Christophers have no children, so the dogs who are entrusted to them — along with four of their own — are close to their hearts, indeed. The four Christopher dogs are very small but stand up straight and carry an authoritative air about them, even as the dervish of 10 playing and snarling animals rattles just outside, in the adjacent dog run.

“They like to think they are in charge, but they kind of are and it shows,” Heather said.

Dan said pet CPR isn’t that much different that human CPR similar to what he learned in the Marine Corps. But Heather adds that comes with a big caveat — treating pets is more difficult because they can’t speak, and they may act irrationally or even violently if in pain, lashing out at whomever is trying to bandage a wound or treat an infection.

“There’s a good chance of getting bit. They don’t understand what’s happening to them at all,” she said. “You have to build some trust with your dog,” by training beforehand, she said. 

She also said it is important to recognize the role of colorization to diagnose dog issues. While much of an animals’ skin is covered in fur, the gums and mouth can be a window into their health.

The classes start at about $75 with an e-book text; and are higher for different levels of training, including a level that includes a first-aid kit. The classes are certified and even count as credits toward a vet tech vocational type degree.

For more information, visit the Shag & Wag site online, on Facebook, or by calling 608-482-146.