Pets Could Save Owners Lives. Believe or Not.

Interesting cases of pets that helped their owners to function normally and prevent life-threatening events were described in the December 2007 issue of People magazine.  Here are examples, described in the magazine.

A dog by the name Adele prevents her owner from fainting

Adele, a black Labrador retriever, nuzzled Marty Harris’s leg, a signal for her owner to sit down after some walk. And for two long hours, Adele lay across Harris as she sat on a cold marble floor. “She wasn’t letting me get up for anything,” stated Harris, 36, a homemaker from Boston.

Harris followed her four-legged friend Adele. She wasn’t going to move until the dog relented. Harris suffers from a severe case of so called vasovagal syncope, where the heart rate and blood pressure plummet, and had been fainting since elementary school. Medications prescribed by her cardiologist weren’t working: doctors also ruled out a pacemaker. The onset is sudden and undetectable to human senses, and yet Adele can sense trouble coming, for reasons that puzzle even her trainers at Canine Partners for Life, a nonprofit organization that places dogs with people with physical disabilities.

“It’s one of the mysteries of dogs,” says CPL founder Darlene Sullivan.

Harris called CPL after seeing a TV show on dogs that can sense cancer. Since bringing home Adele in July 2006 (cost: $900), Harris has gone from fainting almost daily to passing out only once, when she ignored the dog’s warnings. “It’s nothing short of miraculous.”-stated doctors and dog trainers.

A dog sniffs out low glucose while her owner is in deep sleep.

A dog by the name Beverly wakes Krystle Samai from sound sleep. “I wake up to find the full weight of her right on top of me, “says the 22-year-old college student of her 55-lb. Labrador retriever. But bleary eyes – and a face-full of dog breath – are a small price to pay for her pet’s actions. Beverly learn a small of dangerously low glucose and she is warning Samai that her blood glucose level is crashing and needs immediate attention.

Diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes at age 9, Samai previously had little success preventing seizures that can accompany low glucose levels-hypoglycemia-despite checking her blood up to 10 times a day and using an insulin pump. After one terrifying attack in 2006 at the University of California, Berkeley, where Samai majors in public health, she contacted Dogs for Diabetics; a nonprofit agency in Concord, Calif., that trains dogs to detect the subtle scent changes resulting from hypoglycemia. Eight months later, she was matched with Beverly – and hasn’t had a seizure since. Says Samai: “With Beverly, I feel empowered.” Dog in this case is the best doctor!

A dog senses epileptic seizures

Chiper, a 57-lb. German shepherd-coonhound mix, senses that Candice Escandon was on the verge of an epileptic seizure, she would put her paws on her master’s shoulders, nudge her to the ground and protectively stand over her. That changed earlier this year when, instead of pushing, “she started giving me this intense stare, like the look a mom gives a child,” says Escandon, 23, a homemaker in Orlando. She believes Chiper noticed that she was pregnant and wanted to issue a gentler warning.

One time the dog “literally pinned my left shoulder to the ground,” according  Escandon. “I was going into another seizure, and she was making sure I wasn’t going to get up and collapse on the concrete floor.”

Escandon takes medication and uses an implanted electric stimulator to lessen the severity of her attacks. But she relies on Chiper, purchased from the nonprofit Canine Partners for Life for $300 in 2002, to make sure she’s lying down when they strike. The dog is accompanying the couple to amusement parks and even walking down the aisle at their 2005 wedding-special treats for a special dog. “She gives me independence,” says Escandon. “I know I’m safe.”

Note: Abridged from cases described in December 24, 2007 PEOPLE
By Bob Meadows. Andrea Orr in Berkeley,Diane Herbst in Boston
and Lori Rozsa in Orlando