Leo the life-saving Lab proves dogs are (wo)man's best friend

Mar 12, 2015 at 12:29 p.m. ET
Image: Marilyn Peddle/Flickr

Joanna Mellor might have died were it not for the actions of Leo. Who isn't her partner but her five-year-old black Labrador. The 24-year-old beauty therapist went into cardiac arrest while she was asleep next to her boyfriend Andrew Rayment, 27.

Rayment was woken by Leo's incessant howling and barking at Mellor's side and he quickly realised there was something wrong. When he couldn't wake her up, he dialled 999 and was talked through CPR by the operator.

"It took Andrew 30 minutes to get my heart started," Mellor told the Daily Mail. "The doctors say I was technically dead."

She has been diagnosed with Wolff-Parkinson-White syndrome, meaning she has a surplus electrical connection in the heart, which causes it to beat abnormally fast. Most likely to affect young people in otherwise good health, the condition is found in around three out of every 1,000 people. In some cases it can trigger sudden cardiac arrest, which may be fatal.

"I owe my life to my dog and my boyfriend," said Mellor, who has since made a complete recovery. "If Leo hadn't woken Andrew up I might not be here today."

More: Labrador Retrievers: What you should know about the most popular breed

Another life-saving dog to hit the news recently is collie Ted. who alerted his owner, Josie Conlon, to her breast cancer when he started crying, pawing and nuzzling her chest. The Telegraph reported that Ted was a rescue dog and not normally affectionate towards Mrs. Conlon, which made her think something was wrong.

Labrador Retriever cross Magic has even made a career out of his life-saving abilities. He is a medical alert assistance dog, from the charity Medical Detection Dogs, and is specially trained to detect the scent given off by long-time Type 1 diabetes sufferer Claire Moon when her blood glucose levels dip or peak. Magic warns Mrs. Moon to take action to stabilise her blood sugar by placing his paw on her knee and, if that doesn't get her attention, he will put his face right against hers. Mrs. Moon told The Telegraph that she believed Magic had saved her life over a six-month period.

A woman's best friend, indeed.

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