Assistance dogs are a well-known aid to humans. Guide dogs have been helping blind people navigate streets and homes for years. Hearing dogs alert their owners to alarms, crying babies, and oven timers. There are also other types of service dog - such as allergy detection dogs, drug sniffer dogs, and autism support dogs. Our canine friends are an established support to many of us in our lives, as well as being beloved pets. However, most service dogs go through years of training before they are able to take on the role.
This was not the case for Ontario "hero" dog Clover, who stopped traffic last weekend to get help when her owner - Haley Moore - had a seizure. Clover, a sweet-looking mixed-breed dog, is just 1.5 years old. Her owner was taking her for a walk in the normal way when she had an unexpected seizure. The incident was captured by a neighbor's security camera, where footage shows Clover standing over Ms Moore protectively before dashing into the street to stop a passing truck and obtain help.
Not content with stopping a truck, Clover kept barking and looking for help, and her frantic calls for assistance were soon answered by a neighbor named Danielle Pilon who ran to the Moores' home to fetch Haley's parents. By the time Mr and Mrs Moore had reached their daughter, an ambulance had arrived, and Haley was being treated by paramedics. Her seizure remains unexplained, but her parents said that it was "terrifying" to find her "face full of mud and incoherent". The quick-thinking actions of the young dog are what meant Haley could get medical help so quickly.
Clover's tale echoes the recent story of a New Jersey man named Brian, who was saved in February of this year by his rescue dog, a German shepherd named Sadie. When he suffered a stroke at his Teaneck, NJ home, Sadie licked his face to keep him awake and dragged him across the room so that he could get to his mobile phone and call for help. This is despite the fact that Sadie - when she was in the animal shelter - was wary of men, and it took a lot for her to bond with Brian.
Brian adopted Sadie just four months before he suffered the stroke that Sadie saved him from. He said that when he fell to the floor and couldn't get up, he didn't immediately realize what had happened to him, but Sadie knew something was badly amiss and stood above him, licking his face and crying. He was able to grab on to her collar and because she's a German shepherd, she's a big strong dog and was able to drag him out of the space between the wall and his bed, and over to the dresser so he could reach his phone and call for help.
Doctors at the Englewood Health hospital later said Sadie had probably saved Brian's life.
“She was not trained as a service dog, but she was in distress over what was happening and she could tell that I was in trouble. I don’t know how she did it, but she knew.” - Brian Myers
There are swathes of stories about this sort of thing happening. From the dog saved from the side of the road who later alerted his family to a fire at their home and saved all of their lives; to the English rescue dog who saved his elderly owner from being robbed; and the "fearless" Yorkie mix who sought assistance when her owner slipped into a diabetic coma, it's quite clear that dogs have a place not only as family pets but as protectors.