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Forget Lassie, Millie is my life-saver: Specially trained dog raised the alarm when disabled owner fell into diabetic coma
Labrador saved owner Paul McKenzie after he passed out unconsciousPressed panic button with her paw and paramedics arrived'If it wasn't for her, I wouldn't be here now,' he said
08:09 GMT, 21 December 2012
If Paul McKenzie shouts ‘alarm’, his dog Millie is trained to press a panic button.
But when he slipped into a diabetic coma, he was far beyond shouting – and seemingly beyond help.
Millie, however, had other ideas. When she found Mr McKenzie, 47, slumped on the floor, the clever black labrador took matters into her own paws – and pressed the button all by herself.
Paw talent: Millie raised the alarm by pushing a panic button when Paul McKenzie slipped into a diabetic coma
Initiative: Millie managed to press Paul's panic button even though he was unconscious and unable to give her the command
It alerted staff at a 24-hour control centre who tried to contact Mr McKenzie, before dialling 999 and calling his neighbours for help.
Mr McKenzie, who also has neuropathy – nerve damage, a common complication of diabetes – was taken from his home in Derrington to Stafford hospital and put on a drip to restore his blood sugar levels.
The former IT consultant said: ‘Millie is my very own Lassie – she saved my life, and if it wasn’t for her, I wouldn’t be here now.’
‘She is a lifeline for me anyway – she is
specially trained to help me do household tasks, as I have trouble
getting about and lifting and carrying things on my own.
Mr McKenzie was rushed to Stafford hospital after Millie raised the alarm where he was put on a drip to reduce his blood sugar levels
believe how clever she is. We have trained her to press my emergency
button on command, and I often use it to call for help if I’ve fallen at
home and can’t get up.
‘Never in my wildest dreams did I think that
Millie understood the consequences of her pressing the button – that
help always arrives.
‘The emergency services were amazed when they realised it was my dog who had called for help.
one in a million – my best friend.’
Millie was trained by canine
assistance charity Canine Partners, who provide assistance dogs to
people with disabilities to help them with day to day life.
McKenzie, who gave up work five years ago when his nerve damage
worsened, relies on Millie to pick up things from the ground, which is
difficult for him, and often causes him to fall.
As part of her
training, the four-year-old was taught to press the emergency button if
Paul gets into difficulties, and has done so around ten times in the
last two-and-a-half years.
The button contacts staff at Stafford and
Rural Homes, a charity which owns and manages 5,600 homes in the borough
that were formerly council housing stock.
Mr McKenzie, who is
divorced, said of the incident last month: ‘I’d been out in the morning
with Millie doing some shopping and all was well but my bloods had been
‘I ate lunch but was then sick and so felt a tad rough in the
afternoon and at around 6:30 Millie and I had a game of tugging a rope,
which was my last memory for a while.
‘The Lifeline button was
pressed at 7:45pm. The team were shouting for me through the speaker –
usually we can shout to each other using this no matter where I might be
in the flat – but when they heard no response from me they realised
Millie must have pressed the alarm and summoned help.’
for Canine Partners said: ‘We train all our dogs in emergency
procedures, whether it is fetching help or activating a Lifeline button.
the dogs do this on command, but in Millie’s case she knew Paul was in
trouble and worked out that by pressing the button help would be
‘We are very proud of Millie.’
Life-saver: Mr McKenzie said he has no doubt that if it wasn't for Millie he would have died