Golden Heroes

Some Sage Advice
By Paula Lasalandra, October 15, 2006

Dear Rochelle,
I've written to you before about my Golden angels. One sadly passed four years ago. I still have my 4-year-old male named Sage. I told you about how he, as Shea did before, alerts me while I'm sleeping when my blood sugars get too low. I have been a diabetic for 22 years and insulin dependent for the last 9 years.  I write to you now because Sage saved my life last Wednesday, October 11th.

I accidentally took too much insulin before I went to sleep and had a severe attack. Sage woke me up with a blood sugar of 32 which caused an irregular heart beat. He was able to open the fridge and get my orange juice but it was too far gone. He then did something he had never done before. He brought me the telephone! No, he didn't dial 911 and neither could I. I was able to speed dial my Dad just before I passed out and he alerted the police and where they could find a key.

When they arrived they found Sage, he was at my side with his head on my chest. After an ambulance ride to the hospital and several hours of trying to raise my sugar levels, I was released. When I returned, I could not stop hugging and kissing the little guy. The next day, I made him the biggest steak I could find.

Thank you for caring about so many people and their beloved Goldens.
G-d Bless,
Paula Lasalandra

P.S.: There is a part of the story that I left out. It was that after Sage brought me orange juice and the telephone, he left the room two more times to bring me his ball and his Frisbee! Only a Golden owner would understand that!

A Very Sad December 2009 update from Paula:
Rochelle, on Oct. 26, I lost my 7 yr. old golden Sage. He appears on your Hero page for saving my life in a diabetic shock incident.  He wasn't sick, in fact, had just had his check-up. He was playing with my 2 yr. old golden Shiloh, when he just walked into the bathroom and lay down. He looked odd, so I called the vet's office, called work, and was getting ready to get him to the vet's office when he died in my arms. They did an autopsy and found a node on his spleen ruptured and he bled out. I know you understand the pain I have been in. My dog Shiloh has been lost without his buddy. Thank you for all you do for all of us who visit your web site often. G_d Bless you always.





Local Dog Smells Man's Balls, Detects Deadly Cancer
By Mark Motz, Smooth Operator, October 6, 2006

BILLIARDS, PA - Magic, a 2 year old Golden Retriever, reportedly saved his owner's life by detecting potentially deadly testicular cancer, according to the heroic pets owner Josh Ramsey. Ramsey breathlessly describes.

"We found Magic abandoned at a dog pound 3 months back, and we knew he was special then." Recanted a shaken and relieved Ramsey. "About 2 months back, he kept sticking his snoot into my crotch area, and sniffing my scrotal region. No matter how hard I tried to discourage him, he persisted, and then I heard a story about a dog who saved his masters life by sniffing her breast cancer. On a hunch I went to see my doctor, and sure enough, he found malignant testicular cancer, in an early curable stage, thank god. My doc says he believes that certain cancers emit chemical hormones that only dogs can pick up with their keen sense of smell, although I like to think that Magic was consciously trying to save my life, although I'm sure that's kind of silly. In any case, deliberate or not, I'm grateful beyond words. He'll be getting steak for dinner tonight for sure!"


Goldie Wins Bark of the Day
Herald Sun, June 14, 2006

Hero pet: Goldie helped save Mark and Sue Snowdon and their two children from a house fire by waking them up with his barking. Picture: Richard Finnila

A PET dog has helped save a family of four from a house fire by waking them up with its barking.

Mark and Sue Snowdon and their two children woke at 1.30am to the sounds of their golden retriever Goldie barking furiously.

The 18-month-old dog's alarm call alerted them to a fire in the car port of their Darlington home, near Beaudesert, Queensland, police said.

The family escaped uninjured, but their home was engulfed in the flames. The family car was also destroyed.

"It is unknown how the fire started and the area has been guarded overnight so further investigations can be carried out this morning," the spokeswoman said.

Also yesterday, a house in Mount Isa in Queensland's northwest was gutted in a blaze.

Police said the residents of the Oxide St home were in the living room when they noticed smoke coming from a bedroom about 6pm.

They ran out before the entire building went up in flames.





Placid lump’ Rory turns hero: A HEROIC dog has proved he is man’s best friend after putting the bite on two would-be robbers
By Claire Warrender, The Courier, May 26, 2006

Rory the golden retriever rushed to the rescue, forcing the assailants to flee empty-handed, when owner Tim Proctor was attacked.

Tim was hit over the head with a branch as he walked in woods near his Glenrothes home with Rory and his other dog Bracken on Tuesday. While the 42-year-old chef was not seriously injured, he revealed yesterday things could have been far worse had Rory not leapt to his defence.

Tim, who runs the restaurant at Balbirnie Park Golf Club, was walking at Stenton Pond. He set off at around 9 pm, through a wooded area and across a bridge, intending to do a circuit of the pond. However, finding the ground too muddy, he was heading for home when the men struck at 9.25 pm.

“I had my hood up because it was quite dark and it was raining but I was aware of somebody coming at me from the left,” said Tim.  “He hit me with a big branch of a tree and knocked me down. “I managed to pull myself back up and even hit the guy but there was another man and he grabbed hold of me from behind and had hold of my sleeve.”

Suddenly Rory jumped up and bit the man who was struggling with Tim. “Rory had a good hold of him and the guy was screaming,” his owner continued. “I didn’t want him kicking the dog so I pulled Rory off and that’s when the two men took off.”

Apart from a mark on his head and a sore arm, Tim was none the worse for his ordeal and was able to call the police straight away on his mobile phone.

He said he was delighted but surprised at Rory’s reaction as the dog is normally a “placid lump.” “Rory was great. I would never have thought he would do that. “It’s usually Bracken who’s more protective but she was away at the time.”

Fife Police’s Detective Constable Paul Cameron said, “We can only assume the motive was robbery. “Luckily, Mr Proctor’s dog scared them off but we would like to trace the men responsible before they harm someone else.”

One of the men is described as being in his early 20s, 5 ft 11 in tall and thin, with a thin face and pointed features. He was clean-shaven with short hair or a shaved head and could have had a gold hoop earring. He was wearing a dark jersey or sweatshirt, faded blue jeans and white or silver trainers.

The second man was also in his early 20s and spoke with a local accent. He was around 5 ft 6 in, of athletic build, with short, light-coloured hair and was wearing a dark tracksuit top with an embroidered logo on the chest, light blue jeans and silver or white trainers.

Mr Proctor also saw a silver Peugeot parked near the Jahangir restaurant. Anyone with information should call 01592 251111.


Dog Saves Couple From Carbon Monoxide Local News, Amanda Butterfield reporting, November 28th, 2005

A South Jordan couple is alive tonight, thanks to their dog. Their house was full of carbon monoxide. They were asleep. The dog woke them up. "She's just a pup, sometimes a little bit annoying. But now she has the respect of the whole family."

Had the couple stayed in their house much longer, they might not have made it, according to firefighters. Thankfully they had their golden retriever.

The couple is getting treated at LDS hospital in a hyperbalic chamber. As for the dog, Maddy, she likely had no idea she was doing anything heroic. She just needed to go outside.

"If you have house dogs, maybe there's a hidden alarm there for you."

Early this morning Maddy woke up her owners. So, the husband got up and took her outside, then noticed his wife was acting strangely -- dizzy, nauseous lethargic. So he called the fire department. They arrived, the husband passed out, and neighbors got concerned.

Dale Ticshner/Neighbor: "Sharon said an ambulance had been here, taken them to the hospital with carbon monoxide poisoning."

Crews measured the carbon monoxide in the home, and it was off the charts. Dennis McKone/ Salt Lake City Fire Dept.: "It's what we call a silent killer, tasteless, odorless, and it does kill."

The couple will have a total of three sessions in a hyperbaric chamber. Filled with pressurized oxygen, it flushes the body of carbon monoxide.

But to avoid this, fire crews suggest a carbon monoxide detector. Dennis McKone: "I recommend everyone in the valley and state have carbon monoxide detectors in their house."

Dale Ticshner/Neighbor: "That's where we're headed now, on our way out to buy one."

The couple is expected to fully recover. And as for Maddy, the family has nicknamed her "Miracle Dog."



Heart Walk speaker saved by his dog: Golden retriever woke owner during heart attack
By Zak Mazur, GM Today Staff, May 5, 2006

Mark Hanrahan kneels next to his golden retriever, Murphy O'Dawg. The dog woke him up while he was having a heart attack. Hanrahan will deliver the keynote speech at Saturday's Heart Walk at Washington County Fair Park.

Most dog owners are satisfied if their dog follows basic commands.

It’s all gravy when your dog also saves your life during a heart attack.

That’s what happened to Mequon resident Mark Hanrahan, who will be the featured speaker at the Washington County Heart Walk, the American Heart Association’s premier fundraising event on Saturday at the Washington County Fair Park.

"When I had my last heart attack I was sleeping," said Hanrahan.

His dog, a golden retriever named Murphy O’Dawg, sensed something was wrong. "He usually sleeps on the floor next to my bed," said Hanrahan. "That night, he kept hitting me with his nose until I woke up."

As it turns out, Hanrahan was in the throes of a massive heart attack. Nobody knows exactly what tipped Murphy off that something was wrong, but Hanrahan said his cardiologist suggested that some dogs are sensitive to electrolyte abnormalities, also known as hyponatremia, which occurs during a heart attack.

Hanrahan doesn’t find the explanation far-fetched. "There are dogs that can sense an epileptic fit before it starts and smell cancers," he said.

Once awake, Hanrahan said he knew immediately what was happening. His wife entered the room and "saw that I was gray in color. The EMTs took me to St. Mary’s in Ozaukee. They stabilized me there and then took me by ambulance to Columbia Hospital in Milwau-kee."

Hanrahan was told he had to have bypass surgery otherwise he would die. He was only 54. Hanrahan underwent the surgery and says that he is still recovering. "I can’t turn a wrench like I used to." He has also radically changed his lifestyle. "I eat low-fat foods. I quit smoking."

But Hanrahan’s 2001 heart attack wasn’t his first. He suffered his first heart attack in 1987 while flying an airplane. "The first time I didn’t know it was a heat attack," he said. "I felt nauseous, had pain across my back, pain in my chest, felt weak. There was pain along my arteries." Luckily he was able to safely land in Janesville and was hospitalized.

Murphy is also playing a huge role in Hanrahan’s recovery. "Murphy takes me exercising every morning. We walk between 2 and 4 miles, depending on the weather. He keeps an eye on me.

Murphy was also awarded the title of Cardiac Rehabilitation Assistance Dog by the Americans with Disabilities Act.

Asked if the heart attack changed his view on religion and faith, Hanrahan replied: "The guy upstairs knows when my time is up. All I can do is just do the best with what I’ve got."


Jazz is a Hero Dog
By Deborah Dolen, Sarasota, Florida

I am a 42 year old author who lives on Sarasota Bay. In April of 2005 I lost a Golden Retriever I had adopted a few years ago to cancer. Apparently she was bred too young and abused. But her last two years with me were wonderful. She had her own beach to run on and pelicans to chase. She was only 7 when she passed quickly.

After I lost Gabby, I decided I wanted another mature Golden Retriever. I found Cyndy and Cyndy was very honest. She had a 10 year old Golden who apparently was rescued from being "put to sleep" for no reason. The oldest rescue dog she had at that time. Cyndy was not sure Jasmine was right for me, but after seeing a photo of "Jazz" I fell in love and took a four hour drive. Cyndy was great and Jazz was also. Off we went back to Sarasota.

Jazz has always been pleasant, is able to play in the water and have a good life, but I would never and I mean EVER--bet she would be a guard dog. Way too nice. One Saturday night at 3:00 AM I was sleeping in my second floor bedroom and Jazz was sleeping next to my bed. She started growling. I had never heard her growl but I did not wake totally up. I was asking her to quiet down and then before I knew it a man stepped into my sliding glass door (he had been pulling it up to unlock it) when she was growling. As he stepped in she went for his throat and I mean his jugular. She got him a few times, and I did not know until later he stabbed her a few times. He turned to run from her and fell off the building, paralyzing himself from the waist down. He did not move--so I thought he was a goner. He is in jail for a good long time. I was able to call 911 and Jazz looked very happy--and then I noticed she was seriously injured as she seemed smiling and happy she got him. Blood was everywhere as I looked around.

At 4:00 AM I was carrying her to the vet and he was reluctant to perform heroic measures on a 10 year old dog. After I explained what happened he took her right in and spent 8 hours in surgery with her. I did not care the cost and neither did he once he understood. So, that was a month ago and she is very happy to be back home. The tons of stitches did not seem to bother her. If I did not adopt Jazz and treat her so well, I would not be able to write this story. Chances are, I would not be here. But I sure am happy she made it. Now she sleeps in front of that darn sliding glass door. If it were me I would opt for the bathroom or anywhere else after that! Thanks Cyndy.

NOTE: Very sadly, Jazz left for The Bridge on September 7, 2005, a few months after this incident, as a result of the surgery.


A True Hero [account found at Dog of the Day]
December 19, 2004

Bailey: Two and a half years old; Sonora, California

Bailey is the most amazing dog you will ever meet. My son Benjamin is five and is handicapped. I bought Bailey to be a companion for my son two years ago. Benjamin is blind and has crippled, so he gets around in a wheelchair. Bailey and Benjamin are inseparable and love one another to death.

Recently, Benjamin was in an accident. He was on top of a short ramp with Bailey. Upon entry to a shop, Benjamin fell backwards and was rolling down the ramp at full throttle. His wheelchair was two meters away from a busy road, during peak hour, and Bailey ran as fast as he could to stop and save him. Bailey did just that, but was injured and lost his leg in the process, nearly losing his life. Benjamin was two inches from death but Bailey saved him, putting his own life on the line. Bailey is a true hero. This is his picture from last Christmas, and as precious as he was then, he is more precious to us now than ever.



Everyday Heroes
The American Red Cross, Saginaw Valley Chapter

2004-2005 Honorees: Owners: Russell & Amy Struble
"Man's Best Friend"

There are people who love animals - and then there are people who REALLY love animals. Count Amy Struble in the latter category. In fact, she's not quite sure what put her on a quest to get another dog, but when she met Scout, there was no doubt. Scout turned out to play an important role in saving the family from a devastating house fire.

It was Halloween night in 2004 at approximately 2:30 a.m. when Scout, the Strubles' 10-week old Golden Retriever pup, began crying. Amy got up, let Scout outside, and when she came back in the house, saw smoke pouring out of the great room vents. She woke up her husband, Russell, and quickly roused their three children, ranging in age at that time from 6 years to 19 months. They gathered up the children, Scout and their other dog, Whaley. Within minutes after calling 9-1-1, they watched in shock and disbelief as the windows in their home filled with smoke.

They never went back in.

The smoke alarms did not go off until the kids and Amy were downstairs. The Struble family firmly believes that Scout waking up provided them with the precious extra minutes needed to get out of the house safely. Needless to say, they feel lucky to be alive, and thankful for their golden puppy.



Dog saves tot and himself
By Anthony Dowsley, Victoria's Herald Sun, January 26, 2005

JACK the wonder dog was on his way out before his heroics saved his biggest fan -- Hannah.

The eight-year-old golden retriever's strained barking at the sight of toddler Cassandra floating face-down in the Harding family's backyard pool on January 14 saved her life, says her dad Justin.

His yelps caught the attention of her mum Rose who ran to the pool and yelled for her husband.

Mr Harding performed what he said was the "worst CPR", which he had learned in grade six.

He said little Cassandra felt like a "rag-doll" as he desperately tried to resuscitate her before paramedics arrived.

Last Tuesday, after 11 days at Royal Children's Hospital, she was back out and playing with her beloved Jack again.

Mr Harding said Hannah and Jack, now king of the house, were reunited and his daughter was keeping him entertained.

"We were thinking of getting rid of him because he needs constant attention and he's always digging," he said.

"But he's been getting everything since, even lamb chops!" 


Man's best friend sniffs out brain tumor
By Deborah L. Shelton, Photo by Amanda Whitlock, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, April 12, 2006

NEW CLICK HERE to see a May 24, 20065 video from KSDK News Channel 5. Be sure to click on the video icon at the page. Next, click on "COVER STORY" and then on "Dr. Wrigley: A Life-Saving Pet."

Steven Werner feeds his 11-year-old dog Wrigley a treat.

Steve Werner suspected his health was in trouble even before his golden retriever, Wrigley, started sniffing around. His symptoms were vague back in June - occasional ringing in his ears, a general feeling of unease. His doctor couldn't pinpoint a problem. Tests came back negative.

Then in July, Wrigley started to behave strangely. Every day when Werner would curl up next to his beloved canine at his Brentwood home, she would turn, focus on his right ear and sniff doggedly.

"I thought it was just a friendly sniff," Werner said. "But after four or five days, I realized she seemed to be focusing on something. At some point, I noticed she was always sniffing at the opening of my right ear. She would set herself up and intently smell my ear."

One day, Werner was watching TV when a feature about cancer-sniffing dogs grabbed his attention. What he heard propelled him back to his doctor's office.

An MRI of Werner's head revealed a brain tumor the size of a pingpong ball that had spread into the inner canal of Werner's right ear - the very ear Wrigley had been sniffing persistently.

Werner, 40, had a rare nonmalignant tumor called acoustic schwannoma. If not caught in time, it could have caused a stroke or permanent facial paralysis. He underwent surgery in Los Angeles in February to remove it and has been recuperating at home.

Doggy diagnosis
Because of their keen sense of smell, canines have long been used to sniff out guns, bombs, cadavers and illegal drugs, among other things. Dogs also have been trained in medical settings to detect impending epileptic seizures or identify tuberculosis in undiagnosed patients.

Now, researchers are studying the effectiveness of dogs in detecting cancer. "A couple preliminary studies suggest that a dog's nose is extremely sensitive at detecting certain chemicals that make up the constituents of a cancer cell," said Dr. Ted Gansler, director of medical content in health information for the American Cancer Society. "But it's hard to know how accurate untrained dogs are."

Research suggests that cancer cells emit chemicals not found in healthy tissue. Certain types of solid tumors of the breast, prostate, lung and bladder have been found to discharge volatile or aerosolized compounds such as formaldehyde, benzene and alkanes.

Some researchers have successfully trained dogs to identify the distinctive smells of the chemicals. A study in the British Medical Journal in 2004 concluded that dogs could be trained to detect bladder cancer on the basis of urine odor alone.

Different breeds have been trained, depending on the study, including poodles, beagles, cocker spaniels, Labrador retrievers, Portuguese water dogs and mutts.

Nicholas Broffman, executive director of the Pine Street Foundation in California, which published a study on cancer-detecting dogs last month, found the Wrigley tale intriguing. "That's a very common story," he said. "That's one of the reasons we did this research, because we've heard all these stories and we wanted to do a double-blind study to test the idea."

The foundation is a nonprofit, independent cancer research and education organization. In its study published in a cancer journal, researchers collected breath samples in plastic tubes from 83 healthy volunteers, 55 lung cancer patients and 31 breast cancer patients.

The tubes were numbered and placed in plastic boxes and presented to the dogs, five at a time. If the dog detected cancer, it was trained to sit or lie down. Researchers determined that the dogs were accurate 99 percent of the time in detecting lung cancer and 88 percent of the time in detecting breast cancer.

The breath samples were "blinded" so neither dog handlers nor observers knew which samples were being tested until the study was completed. "We set out to see if cancer has a smell and if people with cancer have a different smell than people without cancer," Broffman said. "We were impressed with how well the dogs did."

Broffman said it's not clear whether dogs can detect both malignant and benign tumors, such as the one Werner had. "We're not sure exactly what the dogs are smelling, although we have a hunch," Broffman said. "We want to do additional research to study what the compounds are that they are responding to."

Some cancers, such as ovarian and pancreatic cancer, are usually not caught until quite advanced, and "if there is a possibility of detecting either one at stage one, this could be revolutionary," he said.

'Many steps away'
Not everyone is wagging their tails about the dog studies. The results of the lung and breast cancer study were too good to be true, said Donald Berry, chairman of the department of applied biostatistics and applied mathematics at the University of Texas-M.D. Anderson Cancer Center in Houston. "It's essentially impossible that anything could be that good," he said.

Berry also discounted the idea that cancers smell. "If they do, they are bound to smell different," he said, because there are so many different types. Screening in actual clinical practice is more difficult than the situation the dogs were encountering, said Gansler of the cancer society.

In the published studies, dogs were taught to distinguish between normal samples and samples taken from people with cancer. But samples from people with a variety of other kinds of disease weren't included, Gansler said. "So we don't know very much about the potential for false positive results from the dogs in which they are confusing, say, lung cancer and pneumonia, or urinary infection and bladder cancer."

"This research is a good first step, but still many steps away from actual clinical use," he said.

No one expects dogs to replace biopsies, X-rays or other cancer-screening tools, but researchers are intrigued by the possibilities in the olfactory abilities of man's best friend. Dogs could possibly be used to help identify chemicals associated with cancer, which would aid scientists in developing tests, possibly a breathalyzer, to detect specific compounds.

Werner, meanwhile, is coping with temporary paralysis on the right side of his face as he recovers. The surgery also caused complete hearing loss in his right ear. He is grateful the tumor was caught when it was.

"Don't get me wrong, I give credit to my doctor; she was the one who found it," he said. "But there isn't any doubt in my mind that my dog was looking out for me, that the unconditional love I gave her came back."

Wrigley's life is much like it was before she morphed into Doctor Dog. She spends much of her days watching the comings and goings on her block. Friends and neighbors who organized meals for Werner during his recuperation included special treats for the laid-back pet. She turned 11 in July.

Werner, a commercial real estate developer, continues to lavish affection on Wrigley - kissing and petting her, and calling her "my girl." And she hasn't sniffed his ear since he was diagnosed.


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