Buddy the Hero Dog Dials 911 for Help
When Joe Stalnaker had a life-threatening seizure, Buddy the hero dog came to the rescue by dialing 911 for help.
A Story About Buddy
When we lived in Tomball, Texas (about four years ago), I picked up a copy of Coffee News at a barbershop newsstand. It gave me something to read while my husband got a haircut. Have you seen the publication?
Coffee News is distributed weekly to restaurants, coffee shops, motels, and other venues. Most of the publication features ads and coupons for local businesses. However, it also contains short news items, weather forecasts, high school football schedules, jokes and riddles, and horoscopes.
As I skimmed a column called "Everybody's Talking," I read a fascinating story about a hero dog named Buddy. It was old news, really -- the events had occurred a year or two before. But the story piqued my interest and I wanted to know more. Back home, I did some online research. Here is what I learned.
Hero Dog Saves Owner's Life
On September 14, 2008, the Associated Press (AP) reported a story that started something like this: "Man's best friend does not go far enough for a German Shepherd named Buddy."
The dog saved the life of his owner, Joe Stalnaker, by dialing 911 to call an ambulance to their Scottsdale, Arizona home. And it was not the first time he made the call. Buddy came to the rescue twice before!
Stalnaker suffers from potentially fatal seizures caused by a head injury he sustained while serving in the United States Army. He was stationed at Fort Bliss, Texas, when the injury occurred. Fortunately, Buddy knows what to do when Stalnaker has an attack.
Paws With a Cause
Stalnaker adopted Buddy as an eight-week-old puppy, and the dog knows to grab the telephone when his owner has seizure symptoms. Buddy is trained to press programmed buttons until a 911 operator is on the line.
Buddy does not actually dial 9-1-1. When he grabs the phone with his mouth, his teeth hit a programmed speed dial for the emergency number -- something he was trained to do by Paws With a Cause (PAWS).
Formerly called Ears for the Deaf, Michigan-based PAWS trains dogs to help people with disabilities. The dedicated staff trains assistance dogs, service dogs, hearing dogs, and seizure response dogs like Buddy. Lifetime team support encourages independent living.
An Incredible Rescue
According to the AP report, the Scottsdale authorities released a recording of the 911 call after the story broke. "Buddy is heard whimpering and barking after the dispatcher answers and repeatedly asks if the caller needs help,” the report said.
The police are always dispatched when someone dials 911. But Stalnaker’s address is flagged in the Scottsdale system with a notation that an assistance dog dials 911 when his owner cannot reach the phone.
“It’s pretty incredible,” said Scottsdale police sergeant Mark Clark. “Even the veteran dispatchers -- they haven’t heard of anything like this.”
After two days in the hospital, Joe Stalnaker recovered from the seizure that moved Buddy into action. He is grateful for his faithful companion and lifesaver. Without Buddy, Stalnaker could not live independently because of his disability.
"He knows what to do," said Stalnaker. "He’s looking after me."
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© 2014 Annette R. Smith