Animal Heroes: Henry The Hearing Dog
Dog lovers really love their dogs just for being their own lovely and lovable selves. For Eileen Starkey she has a couple of extra reasons for adoring her dog, Henry. Not only is the golden retriever/standard poodle mix a fine friend, but he is her constant companion at helping her hear, and he also saved the other love of her life -- her husband, Steve, by alerting her to the problem that started while she was asleep.
Eileen was born with normal hearing but when she was in her 20s she found that her hearing was becoming diminished. At work she was having trouble hearing the telephone. She was eventually diagnosed with otosclerosis, a degenerative condition which affects the tiny bones in the middle ear and causes gradual deafness. In 2003 she was fitted with a bone-anchored hearing aid that was attached to her skull. While it worked to some extent, it wasn't a cure. Her hearing ability can vary day to day. Enter Henry. Like so many assistance dogs, he helped open Eileen's life back up.
The whole thing started one morning at their home is Telford, Shropshire, England, when Henry jumped on the bed with her had started pawing frantically at her arms. She realized at once that something wasn't quite right. Normally his alert is to sit down next to her and pat her gently with one paw. Still half asleep, Eileen thought that perhaps she needed to answer the door as she followed him down the stairs. He was still agitated and unlike his usual business-like self over something. She says that he was bouncing around like Tigger from Winnie-the-Pooh.
Instead of going to the front door, Henry led Eileen to the first floor bathroom where she found Steve kneeling over the toilet bowl and bleeding profusely from the nose. He had been there for over an hour and had not been able to stop the bleeding. Eileen went and got their adult daughter, Victoria, and she called for an ambulance.
At the hospital it was discovered that Steve had lost a lot of blood and that the bloody nose had been triggered by his high blood pressure. He had lost a lot of blood and if he hadn't gotten help he may have passed out and died choking on his own blood.
It was only afterwards that the whole story came out. Steve has arisen early to prepare breakfast for his elderly aunt who was living with them. Suddenly his nose started bleeding all over the food so he bolted for the bathroom. After trying and trying to stop the bleeding he realized that he needed help and no one else in the house was awake yet -- except for one. He called Henry and sent him to go get Eileen. The dog was able to sense the urgency of the situation and went running, almost in a panic himself.
When Steve returned home Henry took it upon himself to lie on the bed and keep an eye on him. Three days later Steve's nose started bleeding again and once again he was rushed to the hospital. This time doctors cauterized the problematic artery to prevent the recurrence again.
Henry has since won an award from Specsavers Heroic Partner of the Year for 2013 and the entire family went to the star-studded awards event.
Laurie Kay Olson
Animal News Blogger