Dogs can save our lives by alerting us to heart attacks and seizures. Zeus did.

by: Sharon Sakson

The phone rang with an urgent request from Carrie Hartman, proudcer of the radio program Pet Hour on Sirius Radio. A guest on the show, Penny Centrella of Massachusetts, claimed her dog had saved her life by warning her she was going to have a heart attack, then forcing her to stay awake until help came. She said the emergency room doctor told her that if she had fallen asleep, she would have died.

Hosts Nancy Glass and Cindy Connors knew about my book, Paws & Effect: The Healing Power of Dogs. They wanted to know if Penny’s story was believable and if there was any scienbtific evidence that could back up what she said.

The answer, in short, is YES.

As I researched The Healing Power of Dgos, I came across many claims like Penny’s. The amazing thing was that whenever scientists had stepped in with a study, their findings backed up the owners claims.

Dogs can alert their owners to health crises, particularly things like heart attacks and epiclieptic seizures. For a long time, no one knew how they did it. The guesses were that it might be an electromagnetic disturbance in the owner’s brainwaves. But an experiement at Louisiana State University’s Epiliecptic Monituring Unit showed that two dogs alerted to their owners to oncoming seizures when the computer screens showed NO changes in brainwaves.

The next guess is smell. This turns out to be the magic skill. Scientists are guessing that when a heart attack or seizure is on the way, chemicals are released into the bloodstream that alters the human’s smell. We know that these dogs react strongly, pawing, jumping and barking at their owners, when they detect something is wrong. We don’t know what it is they smell because Dr. James Walker at the Sensory Institute in Florida proved that a dog’s sense of scent is, at a minimum, 10,000 times greater than a human’s. Humans can pick up scent at one part per hundred. Dogs were able to pick up scent at one part per billion. That’s one drop of scent in an Olympic size swimming pool.

Penny Centrella says her Pointer-Lab cross, Zeus, started to paw her frantically on a hot July day two years ago. He nudged her with his nose. He nipped at her clothes. Then, Penny collapsed on the floor with a heart attack. Zeus barked and jumped on her, refusing to let her go to sleep. She was able to call 911 only because Zeus revived her.

Penny says, "My theory with dogs is that you get what you give. Love and take care of them, and they'll do the same for you in return."
The phone rang with an urgent request from Carrie Hartman, producer of the radio program Pet Hour on Sirius Radio. A guest on the show, Penny Centrella of Massachusetts, claimed her dog had saved her life by warning her she was going to have a heart attack, then forcing her to stay awake until help came. She said the emergency room doctor told her that if she had fallen asleep, she would have died.

Hosts Nancy Glass and Cindy Connors knew about my book, Paws & Effect: The Healing Power of Dogs. They wanted to know if Penny’s story was believable and if there was any scientific evidence that could back up what she said.

The answer, in short, is YES.

As I researched The Healing Power of Dogs, I came across many claims like Penny’s. The amazing thing was that whenever scientists had stepped in with a study, their findings backed up the owners claims.

Dogs can alert their owners to health crises, particularly things like heart attacks and epileptic seizures. For a long time, no one knew how they did it. The guesses were that it might be an electromagnetic disturbance in the owner’s brainwaves. But an experiment at Louisiana State University’s Epileptic Monitoring Unit showed that two dogs alerted their owners to oncoming seizures when the computer screens showed NO electromagnetic changes in brainwaves.

The next guess is smell. This turns out to be the magic skill. When a heart attack or seizure is on the way, chemicals are released into the bloodstream that alters the human’s smell. We know that these dogs react strongly, pawing, jumping and barking at their owners when they detect something is wrong. We don’t know what it is they smell because Dr. James Walker at the Sensory Institute in Florida proved that a dog’s sense of scent is, at a minimum, 10,000 times greater than a human’s. Humans can pick up scent at one part per hundred. Dogs were able to pick up scent at one part per billion. That’s one drop of scent in an Olympic size swimming pool.

Penny Centrella says her Pointer-Lab cross, Zeus, started to paw her frantically on a hot July day two years ago. He nudged her with his nose. He nipped at her clothes. Then, Penny collapsed on the floor with a heart attack. It turned out her left artery was 90% blocked. Zeus barked and jumped on her, refusing to let her go to sleep. She was able to call 911 only because Zeus revived her.

Penny says, "My theory with dogs is that you get what you give. Love and take care of them, and they'll do the same for you in return."

Penny said, "He's attached to me at the hip. He watches me constantly. I have to leave the bathroom door open or he gets very upset and barks till I open it. He doesn't want me out of his sight."

2.3 million Americans suffer from seizures. Millions more have heart attacks. Our dogs are a potentially lifesaving resource, right here at our sides, already paid for, willing to work for food and love. We need more scientific studies to back up their abilities. We need more trainers who can show us how to communicate with our dogs. And we need to be more aware that their instinctive animal nature is something we need in our lives. They are ready to serve. Are we ready to listen?

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