45: Sophie to the Rescue

45: Sophie to the Rescue

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Dog Did What?

Sophie to the Rescue

No animal I know of can consistently be more of a friend and companion than a dog.

~Stanley Leinwoll

My husband and I know that our precious yellow Lab, Sophie, enriches our lives every day. She keeps us healthy as we walk her in rain, sleet, snow and dark of night. Just petting her luxurious fur reduces our stress. Her ears are as smooth as velvet, her eyes the color of chocolate bonbons.

She makes us laugh daily with her sleuthing antics, like taking sneakers from our closets, showing us her pirated booty and then running through the house with them. She is a master at swiping our newspapers, which she shreds with great pleasure.

We know that she loves receiving a folded paper “lunch bag” filled with tiny treats, and trotting off to her special carpet where she rips open the bag and enjoys her bounty.

But what we didn’t know was that our Sophie would be a lifesaver.

We adopted her as an eight-week-old puppy from a Labrador breeder who assured us that her pups would prove intelligent, perceptive and dedicated to their families. She was the fluffiest and most enterprising puppy in the litter. She scampered up to me and began to chew my sneaker laces as if marking her territory. I picked her up and looked in her eyes; she licked my face, and I fell in love that minute.

My girlfriends surprised me with a puppy shower. This was the first such party for everyone. The restaurant was bedecked with decorations from a cartoon show about an inquisitive dog, Blue’s Clues. Blue’s plates, balloons, hats and paw prints were displayed on the table along with a huge sheet cake topped with a plastic toy dog. “It’s a Girl” streamers hung from the ceiling. Many restaurant patrons came over to join in the fun. The gifts were playful and plentiful, and provided everything we needed for our puppy. What a unique experience!

We have been blessed for years with our delightful Sophie, who has chewed through several remote controls, our favorite sneakers, socks, countless bones, but never the furniture. Her scattered toys create an obstacle course throughout the house. And, she has a special place for each individual toy. She loves her quacking ducks, mooing cows, laughing koala bears, squeaking balls and assorted bones.

And that’s where her lifesaving story began.

My husband wasn’t feeling well. He had been having acid reflux. He had modified his diet to remedy this, but he seemed particularly uncomfortable one day. As a retired nurse, I was concerned that it was something more serious than a sour stomach as his complexion was green-tinged and he just couldn’t get comfortable. But he felt that I was worrying needlessly. “I’ll be fine in a bit,” he said as he chewed on some antacids. I wasn’t persuaded and wanted to take him to the emergency room; but he stubbornly refused to go.

Then Sophie began hunting through the house for her toys. She brought a toy and dropped it beside him and then proceeded to find another and dropped that one too. She continued until all her toys were at his side. And then she sat down next to him and waited. Now this was something that we had never seen before. We had recently read that trained Labradors were capable of detecting the scent of disease. My husband finally became convinced that there was, indeed, something extraordinary going on.

We rushed him to the hospital and, as it turned out, he was experiencing a heart attack. The main artery in his heart was blocked. His cardiologist was able to insert a stent (a small mesh tube) into this artery, which opened the blockage and prevented further heart damage.

Sophie now has her own pair of sneakers, socks and several new bones to chew as reward for motivating my husband to seek medical care in time to save his life.

~Lee Rothberg

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