Four-Legged Guardian Angels

Four-Legged Guardian Angels

From Chicken Soup for the Canadian Soul

Four-Legged Guardian Angels

If you talk to the animals they will talk with you and you will know each other. If you do not talk to them you will not know them, and what you do not know, you will fear. What one fears, one destroys.

Chief Dan George

Snow had just melted off the ground that April day at our house in Regina Beach, Saskatchewan. My husband, Doug, had just cleaned up the pool in preparation for selling our house. The year before, Doug had lost his job with the provincial government, and now our financial situation was grim. In despair, we had finally put our home on the market, and a real estate agent was due to show up later that day. Even worse, we would have to give up our two beloved Great Danes, Bambi and Brigitte, because we could no longer afford the cost of feeding them. The thought of losing our dogs and our beautiful home was almost more than I could bear.

Deep in despair, I sat typing up resumes and cover letters for Doug. Out of the corner of my eye I could see our thirteen-month-old son, Forrest, as he lay on the carpet, playing near our big, gentle nanny-dog, Brigitte. I hadn’t typed more than two sentences when our other dog, Bambi, began barking furiously and running back and forth to the sliding glass door overlooking our pool.

I raced to see what was happening and noticed that the sliding door was slightly open. Suddenly, I realized Forrest was nowhere to be seen. In a panic, I opened the door and ran outside. There I was surprised to see Brigitte, who was terrified of water, splashing around in the pool. Then to my horror, my eyes caught sight of Forrest’s yellow sleeper. Brigitte was bravely doing her best to keep him afloat by holding on to his sleeper with her mouth. At the same time, she was desperately trying to swim to the shallow end. I realized that Forrest had somehow opened the door, wandered out and fallen into the pool.

In a split second, I dove in, lifted my precious baby out and carried him inside. But when I realized Forrest wasn’t breathing, I began to go into shock. I was trained in CPR, but my mind went completely blank. When I called 911, all I could do was scream. On the other end, a paramedic tried to calm me down so that I could follow his CPR instructions, but in my hysteria I was unable to carry it out successfully. Thankfully, Doug, who was a former Canadian Forces officer and was trained in CPR, arrived and took over. I stood by with my heart in my throat, and after about three minutes, Forrest began to breathe again.

When the ambulance arrived, I rode with Forrest to the hospital. Along the way he stopped breathing a couple of times, but each time the paramedics managed to revive him.

Once at the hospital, it wasn’t long before a doctor told us that Forrest would be all right. Doug and I were overwhelmed with gratitude. They kept him for observation for a total of four days, and I stayed by his side the whole time.

While Forrest was in the hospital, Doug was often at home. When he went into Forrest’s bedroom, he discovered that both Brigitte and Bambi had crammed themselves under the crib. For the entire time that Forrest was in the hospital, they ate little, coming out only to drink water. Otherwise, they remained under the crib, keeping a vigil until we brought Forrest home. Once they saw he was back, Brigitte and Bambi began to bark with apparent joy and wouldn’t let Forrest out of their sight. Our two wonderful dogs remained concerned about our baby’s safety, and even my first attempts to bathe Forrest were traumatic. Brigitte and Bambi stood watch, whimpering the whole time.

In time they settled down, but both remained dedicated to Forrest and followed him everywhere. When Forrest finally learned to walk, he did it by holding on to the dogs’ collars.

The press discovered the story and soon Purina dog food called. They offered the dogs an award and gave us tickets to fly to Toronto for a ceremony where Brigitte and Bambi were awarded medals for their bravery. We were also given a beautiful framed picture of our dogs, which we now display proudly above our mantle. Perhaps best of all, Purina gave us a lifetime supply of dog food so the problem of keeping our beloved dogs was solved.

Those gentle giants helped raise our other two children as well. Things in our lives are much better now. Most importantly, almost losing Forrest—and then getting him back—erased any despair I might have had about losing our home. A house can always be replaced, but knowing we have each other is the greatest blessing of all.

Our two dogs are both angels now and probably guarding other children up in heaven. We miss them both, but we are eternally grateful they were part of our lives.

Karin Bjerke-Lisle
White Rock, British Columbia

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