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Meet The Dog That Saved Her Owner’s Life by Calling Paramedics


Heroes come in all shapes and sizes, and a dog hero named Sue may be the best example.

When Francis Dearth collapsed, there was no one else home — except his dog, Sue. He couldn’t reach his medical alert device or phone. But paramedics came, after responding to a most unusual call!

Close Up of Sue, the Hero Dog
Francis Dearth

The Hero Dog’s Special Connection With Her Owner

Time for a nap, Francis Dearth yawned. The 80-year-old Danville, Illinois, retiree, who has diabetes and heart issues, lay his Medic Alert necklace and cellphone on the bed beside him, then stretched out. His beloved four-legged buddy, Sue, curled up at his side.

Francis had adopted Sue, a Staffordshire blue pit bull, three years earlier. His heart had gone out to her after he saw her scorched fur, where someone had thrown acid at her. And when a shelter worker told him she had only three days left before they would have to put her down, Francis took her home. They’d been inseparable ever since.

Sue was still beside Francis when he woke a short time later and slowly headed toward the bathroom. But as he reached the bedroom door, he got dizzy and searing pain shot up his left leg.

Francis collapsed to the floor … and try as he might, he couldn’t get up.

He reached to his throat to press his Medic Alert — and then he remembered he’d taken it off. His wife, Nell, was working a 12-hour shift, and there was no one else in the house.

Except for Sue.

Sue to the Rescue

Twice before, Sue had come to Francis’ aid, saving his life. Once, when he was having a heart attack, and the second time, when his blood sugar fell while he was sleeping. Both times, Sue had alerted Nell. But this time, she wasn’t home.

“Go, bark for help!” Francis instructed. Sue dashed from window to window, barking loudly. But no one came.

Francis grew weak. The pain was getting worse … and then he passed out.

Moments later, a Medic Alert technician responded to an alert. “Mr. Dearth, are you okay?” he transmitted through Francis’ device. But the only reply was a sharp bark.

“Mr. Dearth, please respond,” the man said again, and again, he heard only barking, which grew louder and even more insistent.

A Happy Ending

Francis was still unconscious when a hand gripped his shoulder. “You’re going to be okay,” a paramedic roused him.

Francis shook his head in bewilderment. “Who … how did you know?”

“You weren’t responding to your alert,” the paramedic explained. “All they could hear was barking, so they told us to get over here. Maybe your dog hit the button by accident.”

Francis looked over at Sue, keeping watch nearby, and he shook his head. This was no accident, he thought. Sue hit the button intentionally.

“Sue knows when I press that button someone always talks to me,” he told Nell when she met him at the hospital.

Doctors discovered a raging infection in Francis’ leg, which needed to be amputated.

“I use a three-wheeler to get around now, but Sue still stays right by my side,” he says. “She’s a part of me. I wouldn’t trade her for anything. She’s the reason I am alive today.”

A version of this article originally appeared in our print magazine, Woman’s World.

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