Special AKC Recognized Senior Golden Hero lt all began in the spring of 2002, the following article
(detailing Bullet & Pam SIca's CNN TV appearance) part of the nationwide
publicity that this story generated.
Baby's Best Friend: Alert Pooch Saves Infant CNN Access, May 17, 2002
A family's faithful companion, Bullet the aging Golden Retriever, turned out to be a hero when he seemed to know
Pamela Sica's baby was gasping for breath. He went to summon Sica and she took him
seriously. Doctors discovered the baby had pneumonia in both lungs. Sica appeared on CNN
early Friday to talk to anchor Jack Cafferty about the dog's life-saving feat and her
baby's miraculous recovery.
welcome. It's nice to have you on the program. Tell us how Bullet was acting that fateful
morning when, as we said, he saved your son's life. What did he do to alert you?
I was in the kitchen making the bottle. He (Bullet) was in the bedroom with my
son. (My husband) went into the shower. Bullet was still lying down. And I guess when the
baby was making the sounds, he came running down the hallway into the kitchen.
And he kept barking, and I was still making the bottle. And I asked him if he wanted to go
out, and he kept barking and turning around and going into the hallway. Then I finally
went into the bedroom, and that's where I found my son. And he had his head back, and he
was gasping for air. With that, he was turning a shade of red too, like, purple to blue.
And I screamed for my husband. He came out of the shower. And with that, he turned the
baby upside down, he thought that I fed him. So he thought he was choking. So he hit him a
couple of times on the back. And it didn't do anything, and he turned him around and
started to rub his chest and do CPR. I called 911. They were there within minutes, and the
EMS was here. And by then, with Troy still doing CPR, the baby came around, and from
there, the paramedics and the ambulance took him to Brookhaven Hospital, where they
stabilized him. And then he went into another episode where they stabilized him.
CAFFERTY: Did you have any idea the baby had pneumonia at this point? You
didn't know, did you?
SICA: No, I didn't know what it was. I actually thought he had apnea or
Bullet poses with baby Troy during a
CAFFERTY: Yes, right, sleep apnea?
SICA: Yes, I had no idea what it was. Nobody really knew until they
brought him into Stony Brook Hospital, where they later did some tests and found out that
he had double pneumonia and ASD, a hole in his heart.
Are you convinced the dog saved the child's life? You said your
husband's in the shower, you were in the kitchen, and the baby stopped breathing. Had it
not been for Bullet, are you convinced you could have lost the child right then?
Bullet relaxes Friday in the family
Yes, I am. Because I would have been dilly-dallying, putting stuff in the dishwasher.
CAFFERTY: Sure, it's 4:30 in the morning. You're doing your chores and
stuff. There's no way you're going to hear the baby stop breathing or start having
trouble, right? What was it, do you suppose, about the dog that made him do this? I mean,
there are mysteries surrounding animals that I guess none of us are able to explain
completely. But they know things that we simply don't know, don't they?
SICA: Yes. He knew it was his baby. He knew it belonged to me, and he was
protecting his baby.
CAFFERTY: Take us back a few years. I mentioned the dog was lucky to be
alive. A few years ago, the veterinarian discovered a tumor on Bullet's liver, and you had
to borrow a bunch of money to have the dog operated on. Tell me a little about that and
the fact that some people thought you were crazy to spend this kind of money to save a
life-saving feat made the front page of a local
took him for his regular checkup, and the vet found that he had an irregular heartbeat.
From there, they ran tests and they did blood work. And they found that his liver enzymes
were elevated from there. And from there, they did a sonogram, and they found like a
pea-sized tumor in the liver. But they were afraid to operate just then, because they
didn't know if his heart could take the anesthesia. So we waited until September, and by
then, they did another ultrasound, and the tumor grew to the size of a softball. And they
told me that it's a situation where you have to decide because he is you know 12- or
13-years-old -- I forgot at the time -- you have to make that decision, and I didn't know
what to do. I said he's been a part of my life for all these years, and there's no way I
was going just to let him go.
So you borrowed the $5,000, got the surgery done. I can't tell you what a story it is. I
have got dogs and cats in my house. I've had them all my life. I have feelings for animals
that exceed the ones I have for a lot of the people I've encountered along the way. A
story like this just affirms that I'm right. ... What about a special
reward? Does Bullet get a special treat now, besides a perpetual nap that it looks like
he's taking there? He gets steak dinners and chicken, right? Anything he wants.
SICA: He did anyway. He was my first baby, right?
CAFFERTY: Yes, really.
Of course, we knew that Golden Bullet's actions merited AKC's ACE
Exemplary Companion Award—the winner receiving a
engraved silver collar medallion and $1,000 cash award. We contacted Pam Sica to ask about
making this nomination and were honored to be provided with this
opportunity. The Human-Canine Bond, and the Human-Golden
Bond in particular, is one that continues to be underestimated; yet, it is through stories
such as this one that we can begin to understand its true force. Here is our
A Life-Saving Bullet: ACE Award Nomination
(by Rochelle Lesser)
A Life-Saving Bullet? Sounds like a
contradiction in terms, but not so in this case, as it was only by the frantic actions of
a 15-year-old Golden Retriever named Bullet that his human baby brother is alive
today. Bullet is Pam Sicas first babya Golden soul who has nursed his mom through many
life crises. But, those efforts noted in the telling of this harrowing story, clearly
demonstrate that he is truly an angel in disguise.
On that fateful
May 1, 2002 morning, Dad was
showering and Bullet was sleeping quietly by the 3-week-old baby in the master bedroom as
Mom [Pam Sica] left for the kitchen to warm a bottle. Suddenly, Bullet began barking and
bounded down the hallway into the kitchen. Urgently, he continued to bark as Pam fussed
with the bottle. She asked if he wanted to go out, but Bullet just kept barking, then
bouncing up on his front legs. Rare behavior for this mellow old guy who acts more
like a rug these days, according to Pam, she then proceeded toward the bathroom to
say something to her showering husband. At that point, Bullet literally went wild, running
back and forth uncontrollably between the kitchen and the bedroom. Finally following him
to the bedroom, Pam found that her infant was bluewith head thrown back and gurgling sounds coming from his throat.
Pam screamed for her husband who immediately began CPR, while she called 911. The
paramedics told us that, if we had found
Troy 10 seconds later, something terrible could
have happened, Sica said. Bullet saved his life. A few seconds
could have made a huge difference, said Paolo Coppola, who heads the Emergency
Department at Brookhaven Memorial, adding that major brain damage can occur in just four
minutes. The longer the baby goes without air, the more dangerous it is. Troy
Joseph was taken to Brookhaven Hospital, where they stabilized him. Released two weeks
later, it was determined that he had double pneumonia and Ventricular Septal Defect, a
condition marked by a hole in the wall separating the two lower chambers of the heart.
If fate hadnt taken some special turns, neither
Troy nor Bullet would have been in
the Sicas home the day of this emergency. When Pam got pregnant at age 42, she and
her husband had long given up their 10-year struggle to have a child. Making it through a
complicated pregnancy, everyone believed it a miracle when Troy Joseph was delivered
healthy on April 10th. Likewise, Bullet almost didnt make it to May. Two years ago a
tumor was found on his liver, and many friends and family members advised Pam to euthanize
him. I said hes been a part of my life for all these years, and theres
no way I was just going to let him go. A referral from Bullets long-trusted
veterinarian was provided to a veterinary cardiologist, and after taking out a $5,000
loan, surgery was successfully performed. Later, Bullet was found to have a testicular
tumor, which was also removed, and currently Bullet has an enlarged heart that requires
daily medication and monthly doctor visits. Yet, Pam has never hesitated to do right by
her first child (of the Golden persuasion), which has certainly
saved her infants life.
Even before meeting his new baby brother,
Bullet was excited about the arrival. A week before Mom and baby returned home from the
hospital, a blanket from the babys bassinet was taken home to Bullet. Dad said he
began running around with glee, dragging the blanket with him everywhere he went, and
using it to sleep with at night. [You can see this blanket draped over Bullets paw
in the above photo.] Finally, when Pam and Troy Joseph came home, Bullet was ecstatic. He
ran right for the babyseeming to
understand that this was the newest member of the family. And, now, while Bullet remains
less than thrilled about repeatedly being awakened by the babys nighttime cries at
feeding time, he is quick to alert to the babys cries. At that point, he looks to
Pam to be sure that she, too, has awakened and is aware of the babys need for
assistance. Then, softly groaning, he ventures back to sleep until the next feeding.
So one can see that . . . . . Pam so perfectly
responded to CNNs Jack Cafferty when he queriedSure, its
4:30 in the morning. Youre doing your chores and
stuff. Theres no way youre going to hear the baby stop breathing or start
having trouble, right? What was it, do you suppose, about the dog that made him do this? I
mean, there are mysteries surrounding animals that I guess none of us are able to explain
completely. But they know things that we simply dont know, dont they?
And what was her response, you ask?Yes. He knew it was his baby. He knew it
belonged to me, and he was protecting his baby.
an Exemplary Companion Award Winner
How fitting it is that one of baby
Troy's first words was "doggie" as you will hear in this
video clip of two special brothers.
We are so proud to announce that our guy
Bullet won this prestigious award in the Exemplary Companion category. When Pam
shared this with us, we also learned that Bullet had performed another special deed.
poor guy had recently come in from the yard, blood covering his nose. He eventually led
Mom out to the culprit in the back shed, a very young and starving kitty mother protecting
her newly born kittens. Well, now Pam is feeding the family and will be providing them
with much needed veterinary care as well as having the mother spayed.
honorees received their engraved silver collar medallions and $1,000 cash awards
at a presentation ceremony at the Orlando AKC National Invitational Championship on
December 11, 2002. Visit the AKC page
here to see a
detailing of Bullet's story. Each dog was also involved in a
local presentation ceremony. Bullet's took place on Saturday September 28, 2002, at the
Suffolk County Kennel Club show.
who met Pam and Bullet at a previous Golden spring match, was in attendance at
this special event. She volunteered to get some digital photos so that we would be able to
share some in the experience. Initially, we think Bullet was quite taken by Beth's new
8-month-old Tana, whom he met at the spring match. Pam told Beth that Bullet looked just
like her Tana at the same age.
At the Suffolk County Kennel Club
show ceremony (according to Beth), Pam was a very nervous and teary Mom. Of course, she's
smiling and looking composed in the photos below as she walks up to receive her
award, and then poses with various family members and AKC officials. And, just look at
this grand old guy's gorgeous smiling face. Boy, is he something!
A Sad Update Although Bullet went on to celebrate his 16th birthday on April 1,
2003, his cancer had returned in the fall of 2002 and time was slowing down for this
special boy. Amazingly, though, through alternative herbal treatment, Bullet was given
almost an entire year more to bond with his infant brother. But, sadly, on August 1, 2003,
Bullet lost his fight and left for The Bridge. His spirit will always be celebrated here
at the Land of PureGold as he serves to inspire us all.
On November 22, 2004, Mike Hacker
wrote to Newsday Pet Columnist, Denise Flaim, with this question: A recent article of
yours included a photo of Bullet and the baby he saved. Is Bullet still with us? This was
her reply: Mike, unfortunately, no. Pam Sica of Bellport, Bullet's owner, says the
Retriever died in August at the ripe old age of 16. Bullet's cancer, which had gone into
remission, reappeared in 2002, the same year he barked frantically to alert Sica that her
newborn son had stopped breathing. Toward the end, Sica considered euthanizing Bullet, but
couldn't. "He saved my son's life," she says. "How could I take his?"
She was glad she listened to her instinct. One early morning, Bullet passed away in her
arms, she says. "That is the way I wanted it. . . . . .
Here is a wonderful slide show to celebrate Bullet's memory.