Golden Heroes

LoieThe Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association 1997 Pet Hall of Fame Hero Loie
Loie, a professional Golden Retriever Service Dog, awoke early one morning and sensed there was a problem. Her human companion, Todd Palkowski, who has muscular dystrophy, was in extreme respiratory distress. Despite the fact that he was unable to give her a voice command, Loie went to alert Palkowski's live-in care provider to call for emergency help. In addition to being a hero, Loie is a loyal companion and helper who has raised Todd's independence, confidence and self-esteem.

Owner/caretaker: Todd Palkowski
Nominating veterinarian: Dr. Claire Rojohn, Hales Corners


OscarThe Wisconsin Veterinary Medical Association 1999 Pet Hall of Fame Hero Oscar
When Oscar, a Golden Retriever, woke Gina's teenage daughter early one Saturday morning, she was quite annoyed. And when she went to complain to her mother, she found out why the dog had bothered her. Gina was acting very strangely, and upon getting her to the hospital, it was discovered she had three cerebral aneurysms. Oscar stayed by her side throughout her recovery as well. He could sense when she might be having a seizure, and he would sit on her lap to restrain her and keep her safe.

Owner/caretaker: Gina Bembenek
Nominating veterinarian: Dr. Philip Schoenborn, Mukwonago



AKC 2000 Awards for Canine Excellence Exemplary Companion Dog

Carolina Copper Grace Price is a 12-year-old, three-legged female Golden who, on the morning of February 26, 1999, roused her human family from a sound sleep after an electrical fire broke out in their Raleigh home. Copper’s heroic action saved the lives of four people, two cats, and a parrot.
Owner: Christie S. Price Cameron, Raleigh, N.C.
Nominated by: Diane Divine, Youngsville, N.C.

Odds and Ends
By The Associated Press (via The Casper Star Tribune, Casper, WY) February 29, 2000

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Copper the three-legged Golden Retriever awoke her masters in time for everyone to escape a fire before it destroyed their home. Even the family's parrot and two cats got out in time.
Good thing Copper had started sleeping in the bedroom, said her owner, Dallas Cameron. "I don't want to speculate on what would have happened without her," he said.
Cameron and his wife, Christie, were asleep in an upstairs bedroom when fire broke out early Sunday. The couple had started allowing the dog in the bedroom about a year ago.
Copper lost one of her front legs as a puppy, when she was hit by a car. It was Mrs. Cameron who heard Copper whimpering and felt the dog's single paw reach out to her in the dark. She awoke to see the glow of flames in the next room.
The Camerons quickly woke their two teen-age sons and hustled them outside. Mr. Cameron went back to get Copper and the other pets. Minutes after he and the animals made it outside, the master bedroom exploded with flames.


Dog Finds Feline In Woodpile
By Jessica Kaser, Sunbury News Intern, December 30, 1999

Ever since the Stoker's cat Graycie was young (she is now 2), their Golden Retriever Morgan, a three-time showmanship fairman, has been like a mother to her.
So when Graycie came up missing, the Stoker's weren't the only ones worried. On Oct. 30 Graycie didn't come in for dinner. The family didn't worry much about it at first; they just figured she was out hunting in the wood surrounding their home.
However, when Graycie was no where to be seen the following day, they began to search for her. They searched all around their property, and even drove around checking the roads.
The week Graycie came up missing was the week in which the snowstorm passed through. The Stokers continued their search through the following Sunday.
On that day, Morgan was outside barking and trying to get their attention. When they went outside they found Morgan barking at the woodpile. They figured it was just a small wild animal that had caught the dog's attention; however, when they heard a meow they realized it could be Graycie.
As they started pulling logs off the woodpile, Morgan became more excited and was getting in the way of the rescue, so she had to be in the house. As the logs were removed, they found a gray cat, matted with wood debris - it was Graycie. She was quite hungry, but when they got her into the house she immediately started eating.
Possibly the only reason she didn't die of dehydration, surmise the Stokers, was because of the snow and rain that fell earlier in the week.
As soon as Morgan could get near her, she began checking Graycie to make sure she was okay. A quick visit to the vet confirmed that she was dehydrated, but with fluids would be fine.
 "We just couldn't believe that she was so close," Mindy Stoker said. "We were very, very happy to have her back."  To the Stoker's Morgan is nothing short of a hero, for without her calling attention to the woodpile Graycie might not have been found.


Guide Dog Saves Owner in House Blaze
South Wales Evening Post, August 2, 2000

A guide dog proved she was her owner's best friend by leading her to safety - seconds before her kitchen burst into flames. June Wilson, who's partially-sighted, was upstairs chatting to a friend on the phone when Dulcie the Golden Retriever rushed in and barked at her.
June, 47, ignored Dulcie at first, but the guide dog continued to run up and down the stairs barking. Eventually, she went downstairs to see what was wrong - and realized there were flames and smoke coming from the kitchen.
In true Lassie-style, Dulcie raced round to warn the neighbours, who immediately rang 999. June, from Darlington, Co Durham, believes she owes her life to Dulcie, who she's had for two years. She said: 'If it wasn't for Dulcie I might not be here now. She is my best friend and it just goes to show how clever and loyal she is.' The blaze, which had started inside June's tumble dryer, was quickly brought under control by firefighters.


Dog Discovers Missing Child: Supporters Comfort Area Family
By Chasiti Kirkland & Margaret N. O'Shea, Augusta Chronicle, October 27, 1998

Amy Gratch & her dog, Bristo, were jogging early Monday along a trail in Hitchcock Woods when they found toddler Catherine Anne Jackson, missing since Sunday. Bristo is a Golden Retriever mix rescued from an Aiken animal shelter. Photo by Jeff Janowski.

AIKEN -- Bristo, the Prince of Dogs & Protector of People, pawed at crawling critters outside his apartment complex Monday, unaware that he had become an instant hero. Meanwhile, a giggly red- haired toddler napped at her home, tired but none the worse for a night alone in the woods, while throngs of searchers rejoiced for her safety.
It didn't matter that 200 uniformed police officers and 100 volunteers never found little Catherine Anne Jackson; Bristo did the job while out jogging with his person.
Two-year-old Catherine, daughter of Mary Ellen and Thomas Jackson, was found in Hitchcock Woods at 7 a.m. Monday, treated at Aiken Regional Medical Centers for a slight case of hypothermia and released. Curled in a ball, barefoot and wearing only a T-shirt, she was found two miles from her home.
She had plopped down to rest on a trail in Hitchcock Woods, a 2,000-acre natural urban forest that abuts the Jackson residence in the Foxchase subdivision. She apparently had wandered away when an older sister left her in her family's yard for a moment about 5 p.m. Sunday.

Catherine Anne Jackson, 2, had been
missing from her home since late
Sunday, and spent the night in the
woods. She was found by Dr. Amy
Gratch and her dog Bristo during a
morning run Monday, Oct. 26, 1998,
near Hitchcock Woods in Aiken, S.C.
(AP Photo / The Aiken County
Sheriff's Dept.)

Amy Gratch and Bristo had started their morning run a little late Monday, which prompted Dr. Gratch to change her route. Bristo, a rambunctious Retriever, ran ahead, then suddenly stopped. He had found little Catherine and was washing her face with his slobbery, spotted tongue.
"She looked like a beautiful angel,'' said Dr. Gratch, a professor at the University of South Carolina Aiken. She didn't know who Catherine was because she hadn't heard the news. "I picked her up, and she was just so warm and beautiful,'' Dr. Gratch recalled later.
Dr. Gratch ran to a nearby house to call police. When the neighbor opened the door, she smiled and said, "Oh my G-d, that's the baby that was lost.'' The 14-hour search was over and Bristo, once destined to die in Aiken's animal shelter, was a hometown hero.

Mary Jackson carries her daughter
Catherine, wrapped in a blanket after
she was found safe in Hitchcock Woods
in Aiken, S.C., Monday morning, Oct. 26,
1998. At the back left is Thomas Jackson,
the girl's father. Jackson disappeared
from her front yard about 5 p.m. Sunday
after playing with her sister. Photo by
Ginny Southworth/AP.

"I honestly believe G-d works through dogs, and I got to see that first-hand,'' Dr. Gratch said. "G-d puts us here and hopes we can help others, and dogs want to help more than any of us.'' It was the kind of miracle the Jackson family had prayed for all night, at home with their fears while others looked for Catherine.
To keep their other three children occupied, the family watched movies. It was important they stayed inside so the infrared beams from the police search helicopter wouldn't pick them out in the dark instead of the missing child. "It sounded like a terrible thing to do, watching a movie while your child is missing,'' Mrs. Jackson said.  "I just can't get over the outpouring of love and concern that was shown by strangers who didn't even know Catherine,'' Mrs. Jackson said. And now that the child has been found, strangers are still showing they care with gifts of toys and balloons.
The afternoon Mass at St. Mary Help of Christians Catholic Church, the Jacksons' parish, was filled with people giving thanks. McDonald's donated burgers and apple pies. Food Lion, Publix and Bi-Lo donated groceries. Wal-Mart provided flashlights and hot chocolate for searchers in the cold, dark night. Neighbors brought pots of steaming coffee for the searchers.
Churches offered prayers and practical aid. Women were a link in the prayer chain while men went out to search. By daylight, Huntsman Drive was lined with people on horseback who'd come to help search.
"We were just concerned for what we might find. ... maybe that she would be abducted or injured,'' said one of the volunteers, Mike Chandler, who is youth pastor at Millbrook Baptist Church. "It was just a terrific feeling to see hundreds of strangers turning out to look for one little girl.''  Authorities disbanded volunteers' search about 11 p.m. Sunday, hoping bloodhounds would track Catherine. They didn't, but Bristo did.


'Best Friend' Proves his Worth
By Nora K. Froeschle, Tulsa World Staff Writer, March 22, 2000

Bill Viseur and his dog Winston
relax on the couch in their home. Community World staff photo by
Nora K. Froeschle

With no special training whatsoever, Winston, a Golden Retriever, has saved his master's life more than a few times. "He hasn't failed me," said Bill Viseur. Viseur explained he is what is called a brittle diabetic, which means basically his condition is very serious and very fragile.
The Midtown resident must test his blood sugar level seven or eight times a day and gives himself three or four insulin injections, but says he doesn't mind. "It's kept me going," he said.
Viseur, who plays clarinet for the Bartlesville Symphony, has been taking shots of insulin since he was in the seventh grade in 1947. "I have really beaten the odds," he said of his relative longevity. At 64 he has outlived the life expectancy of 45, he said, given to people with his kind of diabetes.
He credits Winston with keeping him around for the last eight. While he is sleeping Viseur has insulin reactions, which are the opposite of diabetic comas. Too much sugar leads to a coma, too little to a reaction.  Without treatment he would die from an insulin reaction. But Winston, who was never trained to do so, always seems to know when Viseur is in trouble. It started years ago. "He woke me up in middle of the night and he did not want to go outside... so I tested my blood sugar and it was very low," Viseur said.

He asked a veterinarian and a doctor how the dog knew when a reaction was coming on. No one really had an answer, but Viseur said he has heard of other dogs with the same natural ability. Reactions still come relatively often, and Winston routinely wakes Viseur in time to stop his blood sugar from plummeting. And when the situation is worse, Winston is up to the task, triggering a call to EMSA which comes to treat him about once a month, Viseur said.
His house is equipped with a special alarm system, which can be triggered by sound or by pushing the medic alert button on a little alarm remote control, which Viseur keeps on the floor by his bed. It is kept on the floor for good reason. "So I can always crawl to it," he said. When the alarm goes off, Viseur gets a call from someone at the security firm who mans the alert system. If he does not answer, EMSA is dispatched.

As to whether Winston intentionally sets off the alarm by pushing the button or if his barking sets it off, Viseur does not know. "All I know is I'm lying on the floor, he's next to me and EMSA is here," he said. "When EMSA comes they spend as much time petting him as anything."
"I would have died several times," he said, adding that sometimes he can take care of it before it gets too serious. Winston often gets him up in the night, at which time Viseur checks his blood sugar and gets some juice to stave off a reaction.
Winston has also allowed Viseur to keep his independence as most people with such serious diabetes have to live with someone who can watch out for insulin reactions. "I didn't want to live with someone," Viseur said. His current roommate suits him just fine. "Every waking hour we're together all the time. If I sit on the couch, he curls up on my lap," he said.

Winston is sandy colored, very soft and a little chubby. "He's terrifically overweight," Viseur said, while petting Winston, softly calling him "a fat lug." The idea of Winston's death haunts Viseur. "That's one of my big problems," he said, adding that EMSA personnel have warned him that he is too dependent on the dog.
But for now he practices his clarinet or watches TV or makes dinner or goes to bed with Winston right next to him. The dog does not leave his side, except maybe to go a few feet away to receive a pat on the head or a scratch behind the ear from a stranger. Winston seems well aware of his master's fragile health and has apparently made it his mission to safeguard it as long as the man is in his charge.


Lickety-Split Rescue\Dog Retrieves Phone for Woman who Hit Head
By Heather Romero, The Arizona Republic, December 11, 1999

Mesa/Apache Junction Community -- As Mary Runte slowly came to from a wheelchair accident that knocked her unconscious, there was a wet, warm sensation on her face that she thought was blood. ''It was dog slobber,'' Runte said with a smile Friday as she recalled how her quick-thinking companion dog, Zaret, helped her through one of the scariest times of her life.
Runte, 43, who is paralyzed from the chest down, somehow jammed the controls on her wheelchair Sunday, causing it to flip backward, slamming her head against the floor. The east Mesa resident doesn't know exactly how long she was out, only that she was awakened by the licks of Zaret, her 11-year-old Labrador and Golden Retriever mix. ''I told him to get the phone,'' she said. ''I was screaming for help.'' The next thing she knew, there was Zaret clutching the portable phone in his jaws.

Firefighters who responded to Runte's home after her 911 call said they've never seen an animal rescue as extraordinary as Zaret's. They helped Runte up and examined her head injury, which caused a lingering headache but no serious injuries. ''I was pretty impressed with him,'' firefighter Ernie Padilla said. ''It's nice to see man's best friend helping out man, in this case a woman.''
Zaret has been Runte's certified canine companion for nine years. He helps her live an independent life after she was paralyzed in a car crash 15 years ago. Zaret turns on light switches for Runte, helps her pay at the store and can retrieve items from the refrigerator.
He regularly retrieves the phone for Runte when it falls from her lap, but Sunday's deed was out of the ordinary because she inadvertently left it on her bed. ''He had to look for it,'' she said. ''He's my hero, that's for sure.''


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