Trainee Guide Dog Saves Choking Woman’s Life
A brave trainee guide dog saved a woman’s life by knocking a chocolate out of her throat while she was choking.
Nell, just 17 months old, rescued Lesley Hailwood, 61, on New Year’s Eve after a sweet from a Thorntons continental chocolate box got stuck.
Ms Hailwood, who looks after Nell while she is training, told how the dog appeared to know precisely what to do when she got into difficulties.
She mentioned: ‘It was new Year’s Eve, about 11.30pm. Nell was flat out asleep by then because we’d gone out for the afternoon and she’d had a long walk.
‘I’d gone into the dining room, and on my way back there was a box of chocolates. I picked one up, put it in my mouth and immediately it got stuck in my windpipe. And it didn’t seem to matter what I did, I couldn’t get rid of it. I was choking.
‘But she had obviously heard me, and jumped up, ran past me, jumped onto the settee – which is not what she does at all – looked straight at me, got up onto her back legs – she’s quite a big dog – and with her two front paws she just lurched at me and hit me in the chest. And it dislodged the chocolate.’
Nell, a cross-breed between a German Shepherd and Golden Retriever, is nearly at the end of her training, which may take between 17 and 20 months.
She is cared for by Ms Hailwood – a so-called ‘boarder’ – while she isn’t training at a guide dog centre in Liverpool.
Included in their training guide dogs are frequently trained to interact physically with the people they assist – for instance to prevent them walking into the road.
However figuring out how to deal with a person who is choking wouldn’t be part of their training, and is rather down to Nell’s instincts and intelligence, according to Ms Hailwood.
‘I love all the dogs that I have, but Nell particularly is such a clever guide dog. I wish I could keep her. That won’t happen – she has to do the job she’s trained to do. But because of what she’s done she’ll always be a bit special for me.’