Trainee guide dog saves choking woman’s life

January 20th, 2014
Posted by | Posted in Service Dogs 1,180 views

NellA heroic trainee guide dog saved a woman’s life by knocking a chocolate out of her throat while she was choking.

Nell, just 17 months old, rescued Lesley Hailwood, 61, on New Year’s Eve after a sweet from a Thorntons continental chocolate box got stuck.

Ms Hailwood, an IT technician who looks after Nell while she is training, told MailOnline how the insightful animal seemed to know exactly what to do when she got into trouble.

She said: ‘It was new Year’s Eve, about 11.30pm. Nell was flat out asleep by then because we’d gone out for the afternoon and she’d had a long walk.

‘I’d gone into the dining room, and on my way back there was a box of chocolates. I picked one up, put it in my mouth and immediately it got stuck in my windpipe. And it didn’t seem to matter what I did, I couldn’t get rid of it. I was choking.

‘So I then walked from the dining room back into the living room where Nell was – she was still fast asleep. I was standing there, still with my back to her and I was facing the settee. By this time I was starting to panic because I couldn’t breathe.

Nell1‘But she had obviously heard me, and jumped up, ran past me, jumped onto the settee – which is not what she does at all – looked straight at me, got up onto her back legs – she’s quite a big dog – and with her two front paws she just lurched at me and hit me in the chest. And it dislodged the chocolate.’

Nell, a cross-breed between a German Shepherd and Golden Retriever, is almost at the end of her training, which can take between 17 and 20 months.

She is cared for by Ms Hailwood – a so-called ‘boarder’ – while she is not training at a guide dog centre in Liverpool. She lives alone other than Nell.

As part of their training guide dogs are often taught to interact physically with the people they help – for example to stop them walking into the road.

But knowing how to deal with a person who is choking would not be part of their training, and is instead down to Nell’s instincts and intelligence, according to Ms Hailwood.

She said: ‘The more I tell the story the more I wonder how she knew to do that. It was instantaneous, she didn’t panic or anything. It was immediate what she did.’

Nell2‘They are very clever, intelligent dogs, and Nell is particularly clever. I’ve had her since November, while she was doing her training. I’ve had a couple of dogs before Nell, but I knew straight away she was very quick.

‘It doesn’t bear thinking about what might have happened if Nell hadn’t been there. The chocolate might have dislodged itself, it might not have done.

‘I sat there afterwards in shock for a while – but when it dawned on me what she’d actually done I just gave her a big cuddle. She was quite nonchalant.

‘I love all the dogs that I have, but Nell particularly is such a clever guide dog. I wish I could keep her. That won’t happen – she has to do the job she’s trained to do. But because of what she’s done she’ll always be a bit special for me.’

~Via UK Daily Mail

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