Rescued dog saves her owner's life again and again!

Just like many dogs, when Maddy rests her head on her owner’s chest, she listens to his heart and to his breathing.  But Maddy’s habit isn’t just cute, it could be saving his life.

Two years ago, Maddy was found by SPCA workers, malnourished with a litter of puppies under a house.  Now, Invercargill couple Rana and Kevin McFarlane believe Maddy has saved Kevin’s life and could do so again. 

Kevin has a debilitating heart condition, which means the bottom left chamber of his heart works only at about 15 percent of its capacity.  He has a defibrillator implant, which is designed to kickstart his heart if he goes into cardiac arrest.  But he’s also been recently diagnosed with chronic onstructive pulmonary disease, which makes it hard to breathe.

Kevin has had three episodes during the past year where he has been found unconscious as a result of the condition.  In the last two incidents, the couple have figured out that Maddy knows Kevin needs help before he realises he’s in trouble.  She paces around the house, refuses to eat and tries to get as close to him as possible.  In the most recent episode, Kevin and Rana remembered talking about Maddy’s strange behaviour during the hour before Kevin passed out. 

Because of his illness, Kevin spends a lot of time resting on the couch, usually with Maddy lying at his side, her head on his chest or belly.  Kevin’s theory is Maddy has become attuned to what his normal breathing is and when it changes, she notices it, even before he does.  “I have absolutely no doubt at all she will save my life.” 

Maddy isn’t just a pet, she is a member of the McFarlane family.  The couple’s grandchildren enjoy dressing her up, and even painting her nails.  Maddy, believed to be a Staffordshire bull terrier crossed with a pitbull, is evidence that “it’s not the breed of the dog, it’s the people who’ve got them,” Kevin says.

Maddy was neglected for the first two years of her life, but the SPCA had worked with her for more than a year before the day the McFarlanes saw her.  The couple went to the Invercargill SPCA to pick up a cat not long before Christmas 2015, but ended up bringing Maddy home instead.

The couple now want to encourage everyone to support the SPCA and the work the organisation does, they said.  The SPCA’s annual appeal week is November 11 to 17. 

From The Southland Times, 5 November, 2016 (abridged).