By Danita Cahill
Like all devoted dog owners, Sue Wiley loves her dogs. But Sue’s Weimaraners are more than just companions.
“They’re very, very smart and human-like,” Sue says of the breed. “And they’re very in tune to their humans’ feelings.”
So in tune, Sue says, that when four of her Weimaraners sensed something was wrong with her husband Chuck, they took it upon themselves to do something about it.
A few years ago, around the holidays, Chuck came down with a bad case of shingles. After a couple of trips to the doctor and several prescriptions, Chuck’s rash went away, but the pain from the condition persisted and the prescribed painkillers weren’t helping much. Sue took him back to the doctor, who prescribed a slow-release painkilling patch and stronger pain pills. Sue and Chuck didn’t realize it at the time, but the patch the doctor had prescribed that day was too strong.
After they’d stopped at the drug store for the new prescriptions, they went home and fitted Chuck with the patch. He reclined in his chair and fell asleep. Sue was happy to see him take a nap, since he’d been having trouble sleeping. She busied herself in the kitchen, fixing him a bite to eat. When his supper was ready, Chuck woke up and ate before once more relaxing in his chair.
Sue, who’s a dog obedience and rally-class instructor and trainer, left around 5:30 that evening for a Kennel Club Board meeting. The meeting got over a little before 9 p.m. Although Sue’s vehicle was running low on gas and she thought about stopping to fill up, for some reason she decided against it. Something inside her urged her to head straight for home.
When she arrived, her youngest Weimaraner, Dream met her at the door, woofed at her and ran into the room where Chuck was in his chair. Sue followed the dog to find Chuck lying in his recliner, motionless.
“He’d slipped into a coma,” Sue says. “He was an ashen color, his lips were blue and he was barely breathing.”
Sue watched in disbelief as their four female Weimaraners took turns jumping on Chuck’s chest. “They were making a figure eight pattern from the couch to Chuck’s chest to a corner bench,” Sue said. “They were doing dog CPR.”
She dialed 9-1-1.
“The dogs kept taking turns, doing the same pattern while I was on the phone,” Sue says.
When Sue got off the phone, she took over the CPR. By that time, the dogs were completely exhausted.
When the emergency team arrived, Sue said the paramedics gave Chuck a shot for drug overdose before taking him by ambulance to the hospital.
Chuck was admitted and had to stay in the hospital for a month, during which time the four “girls” got to visit him. When the female dogs saw their master, alive and responsive in that hospital bed, they all clambered over each other to get close enough to lick his face.
“I think they thought he’d died,” Sue said, adding that Chuck had never been one for dog kisses, but this time, he let the dogs cover him with slobbery pooch smootches. He even kissed them back.
Together, Sue and Chuck did some calculating and figured the dogs had done their version of chest compressions for close to three hours.
“The EMTs and the doctors said if the dogs hadn’t been there, Chuck wouldn’t have made it,” Sue said. “They kept him going just enough.”
Thanks to the dogs – Sera, Dream, Destiny and Faith – Chuck pulled through and made a full recovery, except for a slight brain injury due to lack of oxygen during the ordeal.
It took Sue nearly a year before she was able to talk openly about how close she came to losing Chuck that December night.
“I thank God every day that the dogs were home with Chuck and knew something was wrong,” Sue said.
She couldn’t have asked for a better Christmas gift than the one given to her by her four-footed angels.