Not only can dogs be loving and faithful companions, but they can also be trained to make a real difference to peoples lives.
Guide dogs are an absolute lifeline for many around the world. They allow those with sight difficulties to undertake the simple activities many of us take for granted, and have even saved lives in some cases.
To celebrate International Guide Dog Day on 29 April, we have rounded up some stories of heroism from mans best friend.
Iain Sniffs Out Toxic Gas
When Labrador cross Iain smelt toxic fumes coming from the kitchen of owner Paul Whiting from Hartlepool, he immediately started barking.
Mr Whiting went downstairs into the kitchen to investigate and upon opening the door, found his eyes started suffering from a burning sensation when he got closer.
His grandson was asleep at the time and escaped unharmed, and Mr Whiting and his wife were treated for fume inhalation.
“I knew something was wrong as guide dogs are discouraged from barking so it was very unusual for him to behave in this way…Basically, he saved our lives. He really is my hero, as well as my best friend, and we will always be eternally grateful to him.”
The fumes were caused by a faulty compressor on their fridge and could have proved fatal if they weren’t detected in time.
Nell Stops Carer From Choking
Guide dogs are lifesavers in many ways, including preventing choking hazards. And that is before they are even fully trained.
When Lesley Hailwood popped a chocolate in her mouth on New Year’s Eve, she didn’t know it would become lodged in her windpipe. Home alone at the time, she started to panic, but Nell jumped to help.
The German Shepherd/Retriever cross was still in training at the time, but she knew just what to do in order to dislodge the offending sweet.
“…she jumped up, ran past, jumped on the settee in front of me…faced me, looked at me and went up on her hind legs and jumped with her front legs on my chest and dislodged the blockage.”
Mrs Hailwood, from Liverpool, was looking after Nell for the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association. She had been boarding trainee Guide Dogs for two years before the incident and is understandably very thankful she was there that night!
Yolanda Calls The Cops
Guide dogs have to be trained across the board to help their owners, and this goes well beyond helping them get around.
Yolanda the Labrador Retriever lives with Maria Colon over in Philidelphia. Miss Colon bought a special phone and taught her dog how to ring 911 on it, and it is thankful she did as it has had to be put to good use.
In 2014, Miss Colon was knocked unconscious after falling, and a year later there was a fire in their house. She woke up and immediately smelt smoke, so Yolanda had to act fast.
Responding to calls of “Danger!”, the dog leapt to action.
“I hear the phone — tke, tke, tke. And she’s growling. And I said, ‘Oh my lord, she called the police.”
The dog didn’t stop there, as she then dragged her owner out of the house. Both recovered quickly after being treated for smoke inhalation, and researchers are working on more devices which can be used by dogs in similar situations!
Abby And The Electric Car
Now back to here in the UK, and while we are all being encouraged to go electric with our vehicles, there is a big concern – just how quiet they can be.
This is particularly dangerous for those who can’t see them. When Nathan Edge from Nottinghamshire went to cross the road, loyal pooch Abby sat firmly on the pavement.
It is up to owners to listen for noises, and when Mr Edge couldn’t hear anything, he gave the command to “go forward” as usual. But thankfully, they are only told to step forward when the dog does, and Abby didn’t move a muscle.
“A second later, I heard its tyre going through a puddle. You can sense a large vehicle coming by. Straight after, I realised what it was and why we did not go”
From July 1 2019, all manufacturers had to install an acoustic sound system on electric and hybrid cars to improve road safety, after a petition signed by Mr Edge himself.
The new law may have been too late to help in this situation, but Abby went above and beyond to save the day.