Don’t Ever Let an Opportunity Pass

Have you heard the delightful news?  Dr. Heimlich, of Heimlich Maneuver fame, got his first chance to try out his, ummm, thing on a real, live, choking person.

It’s true!

Dr Heimlich is 96 and living in an assisted living facility in Cincinnati.  On Monday he was sitting at lunch next to a new resident, Patty Ris, 87, who started choking on a pre-Memorial Day burger.  So Dr. Heimlich did the Heimlich maneuver on her, and likely saved her life!  He had never before done that sort of Heimlich on an actual choking person before.  Here’s a link to the story.

Cudos, Dr. Heimlich.  You’ve saved many, many people over the 50 years since we’ve been using the Heimlich.  And a personal thanks from me.

Never one to pass up an opportunity, I thought I’d use this news story to retell a Goliath story.  Many of my newer readers haven’t read about my 120 lb alcoholic psycho dog, so here’s your opportunity.  Older readers don’t need to continue.  There will, however, be a quiz.



Normally, I am the best person to have around in a crisis.

I keep my head.  I think the problem through.  I react intelligently, organize other helpful responders and do what needs to be done.   Yes, that’s just the sort of person I am in real life.

Generally, I also manage to keep a running humorous commentary which is invaluable to the hoards of folks standing around doing the wrong thing at the wrong time.  Because, let’s face it.  Not everyone handles stressful situations without becoming certifiably stupid.

Of course every rule needs an exception, and this story is no exception to the exception requirement.

*    *     *

It was just after John and I bought a house for Goliath because nobody would rent to a young couple with a gigantic dog.

We were incredibly lucky in buying our first house.  It was a tiny split level cape cod type that defied description.  But it was just right for newlyweds.  The whole inside had been redone – we bought it from a contractor who’d lived there.  The kitchen was new, the paint unmarked.  Everything was bright and clean.  The coral colored carpeting was newly installed and didn’t have a single blemish on it.

It had been a long stressful day at work for me, so after John and I walked Goliath and had dinner, I decided to take a long, hot, relaxing bath.  The one bathroom was on the “second floor” which was four steps up from the living room.   As it turns out, it was my last relaxing bath.  Ever.

So I wasn’t far when John announced from the living room below

“Uh, Lease?  We have a problem.”

John was fairly calm, actually.  Of course that would change.

“What’s the problem?” I said.  The water was still warm and I was just starting to wash away the day.

“The red ball is stuck in Goliath’s mouth.”

Shit!  I thought as I got out of the tub and grabbed my robe.  Why couldn’t he just pull the damn ball out and let me have my bath?  I was a tad annoyed at my new husband at that moment.

I went down the two steps to find John holding Goliath steady, calming him down, even though Goliath was relatively calm.

Goliath turned towards me and I immediately saw what John was talking about.

Goliath’s favorite tease-toy, a hard red rubber ball with a bell inside, was there in his mouth.  But it didn’t look like any big deal.  I looked at John with an I can’t believe you can’t handle this without me look.  John didn’t notice.

Red ball with bellStill available.  Photo Credit

That ball really was Goliath’s favorite.  He’d pick it up and taunt us when he wanted to play.  He’d wag his tail ferociously, and drop the ball, catching it in his mouth long before we could grab it from him to throw it.  It never hit the floor.  Goliath would drop and catch, drop and catch, drop and catch.  The bell inside would ring and he would wiggle his eyebrows and his back end.  Come on, grab the ball, he was clearly saying.  Let’s play.  But of course, he would never let us.

This time, as I dripped on the new carpet and assessed the situation, I could see that Goliath had caught the ball too far back in his mouth.  He couldn’t drop it again, and the ball’s size was just a little bit larger than his windpipe.

First I petted Goliath, soothed him, although he wasn’t really terribly upset.  In fact, he was just a little bit confused and uncomfortable.   I looked at John, astonished that he hadn’t just reached into Goliath’s huge mouth full of huge teeth, and pulled out the ball.

So I did.  Or at least I did the first bit — I reached into Goliath’s mouth, firmly placed my thumb and forefinger on the ball, glancing at John to make sure he would know what to do next time.  John and I watched in horror as the dog-slobbery ball slipped out of my fingers, lodging further into his mouth, right at the top of his windpipe, blocking most of his throat.

No longer able to breathe comfortably and no doubt pissed that his Mommy had made things worse for him, Goliath began to panic.  He started running around the house with John and I chasing after him. Trying to catch him, trying to pry the damn ball out of his mouth.

I’ve never felt so helpless.  So terrified.  It was later when I felt like an idiot.

John and I tried everything we could think of – we put the stem of a wooden spoon behind the damn ball and tried to pull it out.  But  it didn’t budge.  The spoon broke, naturally.  We went through a lot of kitchen equipment that night.

Stupidly, in spite of the fact that it hadn’t worked, we kept reaching into his mouth and trying to pull the ball out.  Each time we made it worse and the ball went down further.  With each effort we only made it more difficult for him to breathe, and the more panicked poor Goliath got.

Goliath ran back and forth between the kitchen, the dining room and living room – the three tiny rooms of our tiny little house.  John would catch him as he ran by and try something.  I would catch him on the rebound and try something, anything else.  Poor panicked Goliath raced across the three rooms, a half-dozen times.  And then a half-dozen times again.

Once when he caught Goliath, John reached into Goliath’s mouth behind the ball.  Goliath’s gag reflex, in constant action by that time, led him to clamp down on John’s right index finger.

“Shit!” John shouted as he pulled his hand away from Goliath and let him go.  Blood dripped from John’s hand.

Almost immediately I caught Goliath and did exactly the same thing, only Goliath bit my left pointer finger.  Then it was John’s turn again to be bitten, and Goliath got John’s left middle finger.   Blood was flying all around our new house, our new carpet.  We didn’t really care, though, Goliath’s panic had spread to John and me.

Goliath was going to die.

There was nothing we could do.  My boy would choke to death on that goddam ball in front of us.  And with each movement that Goliath made, the cheerful bell inside of it rang.  Alfred Hitchcock was directing the scene.

Maybe the image of Alfred Hitchcock led me to do what I did next.  Yeah, let’s just assume that that’s what happened. It is the only explanation.

I had to do something or my crazy, psychotic, beloved life-saver of a dog was going to die.  I was about out of ideas, and then I remembered a show John and I had watched on TV just the night before.

I went into the kitchen and took out our largest knife, knowing I had to give my dog a tracheotomy.

At the time, I was not yet a fake medical professional.  I had never done a canine tracheotomy.  I did not, in fact have a clue if dogs have tracheas, and if so, just where Goliath’s might be located.  I didn’t know if it would make a difference if I, ummm, otomied it.

But just the night before, Radar had done a tracheotomy on a wounded soldier on M*A*S*H.  And if Radar O’Reilly, another animal lover, could do it, well, so could I.  Goliath needed me.

Besides he was going to die.  That reality had become crystal clear.  I had to do something.  Something drastic.  And likely messy.

So I took the butcher knife from the kitchen to the living room to perform my surgery there, on the new carpet in the room that was now looked like a crime scene.  My blood and John’s was speckled all over the living room and dining room  rug and smeared onto the walls and door frames.  I stood, knife in hand, and looked around the living room for a clean spot on the rug.

Henkels Butcher KnifeAlso still available here where I got the photo

John had at that time caught Goliath who was still terrified, still panicked, but running out of energy and oxygen.  When John saw me with the knife in my hand and heard my plan, he must have thought

This woman can never get near my (future) children.”

But “Are you nuts?” was all I recall him saying.  Perhaps there were expletives mixed in there, somewhere.  Maybe.

At just that moment, Goliath keeled over.

“Oh my God,” I shouted.  “He’s dead.”  And I began to sob.

“No,” was all John said.  But he started punching Goliath in the stomach, which did not seem like a very respectful thing to do to a dead dog.  To my dead baby.

Out popped the ball.  John, holding tightly to Goliath’s muzzle with his two bleeding hands, breathed into Goliath’s mouth.   Magically, Goliath’s eyes opened.  Goliath took a very deep breath indeed.  So did we.

The Heimlich maneuver.  It works on dogs. 

There’s another thing I should tell you about the Heimlich maneuver.  It’s best to try it before attempting a tracheotomy.

*     *     *

Other Goliath Stories:

For Medicinal Purposes Only

Dogs and Other Nuts

What’s In A Name?

The Olde Towne School For Dogs


Filed under ; Don't Make Me Feel Perky Tonigh, Adult Traumas, Advice from an Expert Patient, All The News You Need, Bat-shit crazy, Crazy family members, Curses!, Dogs, Family, Goliath Stories, Health, History, Huh?, Humiliation, Humor, laughter, Love, Most Embarassing Moments Evah!, Oh shit, Plagarizing myself, Rerun, Seriously funny, Seriously weird, Shit happens, Shit Your Pants Scary, Stupidity, Taking Care of Each Other, Why the hell do I tell you these stories?, WTF?

56 responses to “Don’t Ever Let an Opportunity Pass

  1. Holy carp, Elyse!! If I hadn’t remembered you started this post with a happy, successful story about Dr. Heimlich in his nursing home, I would have ABSOLUTELY PANICKED, reading this story!

    As it was, I only part-way panicked. And persevered to the end.

    (Threats of quizzes will do that to me. #teacherspet)

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Your actions were truly heroic, Elyse. Seriously. I was getting the chills just reading this story.

    And I love the fact that the incident a couple of days ago is the FIRST time Dr. Heimlich ever did his own maneuver on a choking person. Just goes to show…something.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I think John gets the hero badge in this one, Peg. I still can’t believe that I considered sticking my butcher knife into my dog’s neck … oy.

      And I think it’s neat about Dr. Heimlich, too. It makes me smile.

      BTW, I responded to this comment on my phone shortly after you wrote it. This has happened with your comments a few times and I don’t want you to feel neglected. At least not by me!


  3. I was worried for a moment there, Elyse. Glad you and Goliath made it through that trial. No more balls.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was truly terrifying. To this day — nearly 30 years later, I still cannot relax in bath. I still see the scene played out.

      Soft balls, tennis balls are OK, according to my vet. It’s the hard rubber ones that you have to worry about.


  4. I hadn’t heard about that. I’m glad it inspired you to post a Goliath story. They are all worth re-reading.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks. I should try to come up with a new one! But the lesson in this one, that you can use the Heimlich on dogs (and probably cats too, although they are rather floppier) may save someone else’s dog some day. (When this happened, the Heimlich was less well known than it is now. Fortunately, John had heard of it…)

      Liked by 1 person

  5. I did hear about that… too bad he broke his wife’s ribs 27 times perfecting his maneuver…

    Liked by 1 person

  6. Some tidbits about Dr. Heimlich. Of course he’s a Cincinnati legend … and we usher the night he has tickets to the Playhouse (when he can attend) … Did you know that Arthur Murray was his father-in-law? … and Anson Williams (of Potsie fame) is his nephew.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Gosh, I hope you’re not at the next table if I start to choke. You’d probably try a trach with a butter knife!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I remember this one. I can’t imagine how frightening that must’ve been.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was possibly the worst night of my life. The combination of the horror at nearly losing Goliath and being such an idiot myself in the situation made me fear ever having kids or being in any sort of responsible position.

      Horrible, horrible night.


      • When you’re thrust into a situation you’ve never faced before it’s expected that you not know what to do. As you’ve read (multiple times) I had someone attempt suicide in front of me. It’s easy to look back now and say I should have dialed 911 and forced her to get help, but I was in such a state of shock that I just sat there, paralyzed, and cried.

        Liked by 1 person

        • Yes, I remember that story too. Chilling. I’m betting that she didn’t take the whole bottle, though. Hid or flushed most of it.

          Isn’t it amazing that any of us survive to our 30s???!!!


          • All I know is that the bottle was empty and she was basically in a coma for three days. But, you’re right. Sometimes I wonder how I’ve managed to survive as long as I have. And I’m definitely baffled how my kids have turned out as well-adjusted as they have considering all that’s happened. Whatever the reason, I’m thankful for it.

            Liked by 1 person

  9. Fantastic story, Elyse. Expertly written and so entertaining. Glad Goliath was okay! Hope you have a nice holiday weekend. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Kelly. I’m glad Goliath was OK, too. He lived another 5 years or so. And this is one of the reasons why I will never be more than a “fake” medical professional!

      Liked by 1 person

  10. My stomach was in a vise, reading this story. I’m wondering just how that tracheotomy would have gone, had you actually gone ahead with it. I suspect you would have had to buy a new carpet. We have small dogs, and usually the balls they get are too big for them to pick up. But now that I’ve read this story, all mouth-sized balls are going in the trash.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Tippy. It was truly a horrifying experience. I’m glad I didn’t go ahead with the tracheotomy; somehow I don’t think it would have ended up as well.

      The vet later told us that it’s the hard balls that are problematic. If it had been a tennis ball, we might have had better luck getting it out of his mouth as they are a bit flexible.

      But I’m not too excited about playing with windpipe sized balls with my dogs anymore!

      Liked by 1 person

  11. It’s 6 am and I am sitting on the edge of my seat reading your Goliath story. So glad it all turned out well. And proud of Dr. Heimlich saving that 87 year old with his own maneuver. Who knew he’d never done it before ??
    Now, I need my coffee. Whew. ☺

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m just now having my first cuppa, so I can imagine this was a difficult story to read without that jolt of caffeine!

      Isn’t it cool about Dr. Heimlich, though? I just love the fact that this man, who indirectly saved thousands and thousands of people over the years (and at least one dog) got to actually do it and save somebody himself. It makes me smile.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. I had no idea you could do that on a dog. This was a nail biter of a story, but very informative. I never doubted the length of your effort. If anyone is going to try everything possible before giving up, it’s you!
    My favorite line: “And if Radar O’Reilly, another animal lover, could do it, well, so could I. Goliath needed me.” Seriously now…lol

    Liked by 1 person

    • One of the reasons I wrote up this story was to spread the word that the Heimlich works on dogs. It wasn’t merely to send off another one of my most humiliating moments into the internets …

      At the time, mid-80s, the Heimlich wasn’t as well known as it is now, although both John and I knew about it in the backs of our minds. Fortunately for all, the back of John’s mind is accessible!

      Radar at least had calm doctors at the other end of a radio walking/talking him through it. Me? I had nada!


  13. Love it. What a story. Definitely worth retelling – at least everyone gets to learn or be reminded of this important survival skill, even on dogs.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a night it was! I still get anxious when I think about it. It might easily have ended the other way…

      And yes, the Heimlich Maneuver works on dogs!!!


  14. Paul

    Whoa! You are one serious lady – stand back, operation in progress. I once stitched up a friend when there was no other option, even though TV and personal experience were the only training I had. The things we do in the face of great loss are quite astounding. I’m glad that Goliath was OK.

    Liked by 1 person

    • What a night that was, Paul. Goliath had saved me literally and figuratively. I wasn’t going to give up without a fight! But thankfully cooler (and smarter and with a better memory) heads prevailed.

      Good for you stitching up a friend. There’s no telling what we can do in an emergency, is there! As my dad used to say, “you gotta do what you gotta do.”

      Liked by 1 person

  15. I’m sorry…I know this was a life and death situation, but I am still laughing so hard I have the hiccups. The picture of the two of you chasing a gigantic alcoholic dog around while you all trash your beautiful new house just keeps playing like a movie in my head.

    I love your Goliath stories and this is one of the best.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well thanks a lot, Barb. Thanks a whole lot for your sympathy and compassion. (I hope you see the twinkle in my fingers as I type out this snarky response.)

      I’ve always thought that this would be a very dramatic scene in the movie of my life. In this scene I think I would have to be played by a young Goldie Hawn … who else could be THAT ditsy?


  16. For some reason it never occurred to me that the Heimlich Maneuver was named for a guy named Heimlich. I figured somebody had a friend named Heimlich who choked to death and he invented a solution in his honor.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Many diseases are named for the person, usually a doctor, who first identified it as a thing. Parkinsons’, Crohn’s, etc. I’m not sure I would want my own name associated with something horrible like a disease, but I guess fame is fame.

      Not everybody can be world famous bloggers like us. Ammirite?


  17. Elyse, oh my gosh. You told this so vividly it was like being there, minus the blood. It’s good to know that maneuver can be used on pets. The tags…keep your knives away from me. That provided comic humor.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I swear, Jaded, I think of you every time I add my tags. There was one time when I was rushing and had to leave and didn’t put any in. Why would anybody read this, I thought!

      It IS good to know that the Heimlich works on pets. It would have been better to realize it while my bath was still warm, but …….

      Liked by 1 person

  18. Thank you.I’ve saved that video to a folder.Just in case.
    blood’s a real pain to clean up, isn’t it?

    Liked by 1 person

    • John actually just punched Goliath under the rib cage. That worked the same trick.

      The blood never did completely come out. We moved the furniture around!


  19. Oh my goodness! I’m glad the story had a happy ending.
    Never ever going to let me cats have a small ball again.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a good idea, actually. At least not hard ones. The soft ones that are plyable — that will collapse if there’s a problem, are OK, at least for dogs. According to our old vet, that is.

      I’m glad it had a happy ending, too. He was a great dog, albeit nuts. Don’t know where he could have gotten that, though.

      Liked by 1 person

  20. OMG, what a story! We once had a dog who got a chew treat stuck crosswise in his mouth, and we, too, had the fun experience of chasing the darn dog all over the house. But never once, did I consider a tracheotomy (well, of course, my dog was still able to breath, so who knows what would have happened …).

    Did Goliath get a new ball after that? Preferably without a bell? (I think that was the very best part of the story – the little bell merrily tinkling away while everyone was in a panic.)

    Liked by 1 person

    • No!!! No new balls ever. Or no hard, inflexible ones for him and his successors. The vet later told us that they are the most deadly of toys. We do use tennis balls and assorted other ones.

      That bell ringing actually still haunts me!

      Liked by 1 person

  21. Love it love it love it

    Liked by 1 person

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