NORMAL — Pia the corgi is one lucky dog.
Last week, the 15-year-old rescue pup was dropped off for a bath at Belly Rubs Dog Grooming in Normal by her owner, Juliana Harms.
“It was her first grooming in a while because she was dealing with liver issues and I didn’t want to have to take her out of the house. She was doing well so I thought it would be a good day,” said Harms of Normal.
After Harms left the shop, staff at Belly Rubs noticed Pia behaving unusually.
“Pia was laying on her side which was weird. We're all used to how the dogs act and we knew something was wrong,” said Kerry King, owner of Belly Rubs.
Pia had gone limp. She wasn't breathing and her heart had stopped.
With King’s help, groomer Emily Bauman stepped forward to resuscitate the dog. Bauman is studying zoology at Illinois State University and volunteers at Kruger Animal Hospital in Normal between her job as a groomer.
“You give CPR (cardiopulmonary resuscitation) to a dog just like you would to a human,” said Bauman. “You do mouth-to-mouth by blowing air into their lungs through their nostrils. Then you do chest compressions as you would a human to get that heart rate back.”
Staff at Belly Rubs immediately called Harms to get her back at Pia’s side.
“I was just yards away in my car when they called and said very calmly that they thought Pia had a seizure and they were resuscitating her. I came running back to the building,” said Harms.
Slowly, the dog responded. Pia started breathing again and stood, shakily on her own.
Meanwhile, Harms called Highland Pet Hospital in Bloomington and rushed Pia there for an exam.
“I’ve seen CPR given many times at the animal hospital, but that was the first time I did it on an animal,” said Bauman. “It was really instinctual. I knew what to do. It was the right place at the right time.”
Harms said it’s unclear if Pia’s episode was cardiac or neurologically related, but the dog is doing well.
“I was impressed by the rapid response of staff. When I came in, it was an emotional situation, but they were quite measured and calm,” said Harms. “They took care of her. I was really thankful, impressed and grateful.”
Pia was treated at Highland by Dr. Laura Li, who said Bauman's quick response "certainly gave Pia a good leg up" in recovery. "It sounds like the groomer's efforts certainly were the correct ones to get Pia turned around," said Li.
Bauman said the happy outcome solidified her plan to become a veterinarian.
“I realized I’m headed in the right direction with my career,” she said.
Li said Bauman is "in the right profession."
"She's on the right track already working with animals and she knows how to keep a cool head when something tragic happens," said Li.
The next day, Harms brought lunch and homemade cookies to employees at Belly Rubs.
“Every pet owner needs to be alert to what can occur unexpectedly,” said Harms. “There is a way to provide life-saving actions when a pet is in trouble and that is CPR. Pet owners should also be alert to poison and how to immediately respond to a pet in need.”
Li said it's beneficial for any pet owner to learn pet CPR and first aid, but it's no substitute for getting a sick pet to the vet as soon as possible.
For now, Pia is taking it easy, relaxing at her owner’s feet and cuddling with her cat siblings.
“She’s a very mellow, kind, patient and lovely pup,” said Harms. “I want to give a huge thanks to Belly Rubs and Highland Pet Hospital. It was definitely a crisis, but Pia is home with me. Pia is my heart.”