Pugs to the Rescue
It stormed throughout the last night of February 2005, leaving a moderate amount of light snow on the ground. In the early morning my wife, Joanne, was clearing the last of the snow and I was to take our two Pugs on their routine early morning walk. Joseph, an 8 year old pug, had come to us at nearly three years old from Pug Rescue of New England, and Lilo, a recently arrived one year old also from Pug Rescue.
The sidewalks were covered with new snow. The city had done a good job with the road surfaces; there was a thin hard pack with a little glaze. Because it was slick I chose to walk on the back streets to avoid the early morning traffic. We started off and made our way through several blocks, greeting just a very few early morning shovelers. We began our return by taking a different route. Joseph and Lilo did their usual morning duties, and we enjoyed the cold crisp air. We were only three or four blocks from home when our morning took a dramatic turn.
All of a sudden, I was on the ground. I didn’t remember falling! But I was flat on my back and my head hurt. My ball cap was still on, and my fingers were a little red after I touched my head. I tried to sit up, but I could not do it! With effort, I rolled to my side and I got on my hands and knees ... nothing made sense. The next thing I knew, I was walking and the dogs had my arm out straight, pulling with all their might. I must have missed something, because we had arrived at our front walk and they were leading me to Joanne who was cleaning the last of the snow from the front steps. She turned, stared into my eyes, with a puzzled and concerned look asked “What happened?” All I could say was, “I fell.” She took the dogs’ leashes and led me by the arm to the kitchen table. Off came my jacket and cap. “Sit down.” She got me a cold pack for my head. “What happened?” she asked again. “I fell.” “Where were you?” “Ah, I’m not sure.” Joanne was thinking I had amnesia; I was just trying to think. With her questions and prompting we established my route, to a point. With this recall effort, two tiny glimpses of the journey from the fall emerged.
I recalled entering the street before mine with the dogs leading me. It looked very long. My only thought was, “Just keep walking. Just keep walking.” The dogs were in front of me straining on the leashes; leading me with all the strength they could muster. Lilo was making side glances at Joseph as if taking his cue. Their muscles were working at peak effort, like those of draft horses. The second bit of memory was entering our street; I looked along the roadway thinking “Not too far to go. Not too far to go.” The dogs were still pulling at my arm with all their might, my arm still straight out in front of me, the leads taunt.
Joanne’s further prompting was nonproductive, so we called my doctor‘s office. They said, “Go to the emergency room or come here, it might be faster, he happens to be in.” At the doctor’s office, first the nurse, and then the doctor checked me and heard my fractured story. Then we’re off on a diagnostic journey. Over the next few days we made several trips to medical facilities for tests. A head scan is OK, a cardiac echogram is OK, and a 24 hour heart monitor is OK. Then a stress test, oops, not OK. There is evidence of one or more blockages and a catheterization was in order. Off we went to Boston for this procedure. Upon waking from the anesthesia after the catheterization, a cardiac surgeon was at my bed waiting to talk to me. He tells me that there are three blocked cardiac arteries that require bypass grafts. I tell him that I recognized no previous symptoms and relate the story of the dogs bringing me home. His response was “I usually don‘t get to see patients like you. The dogs saved your life.” The rescued had done the rescuing.
By Peter Hobson