Dog with a 'sixth sense' saves her master's life (Scotsman)
FOR Mark Ryan, Meg the Border collie-cross is more than just man’s best friend - she is also his life-saver.
The two-year-old dog can sense when Mr Ryan is about to suffer an epileptic fit and lets him know by scurrying around his feet - even though Mr Ryan does not yet feel unwell.
When the 45-year-old from Stafford notices the dog becoming agitated and circling him, he immediately braces himself and gets into a safe position to prevent serious injury.
Mr Ryan’s wife, Claire, decided to get a dog following a particularly violent seizure last January, which left her husband with a shattered cheekbone and a broken nose.
A paramedic who was tending Mr Ryan told her that pets helped to calm people suffering from epilepsy, minimising the risk of serious fits.
The couple paid £60 for Meg at the Roden Rehoming Centre in Shropshire. Three weeks after bringing the dog home, Mr Ryan took her out with him and noticed she was behaving in an erratic manner.
The dog began weaving in and out of his legs as if trying to stop him, and kept leaping up at him.
Mr Ryan tried to calm her and carried on walking, but collapsed in the street and was taken to hospital.
Now he has learned to recognised the dog’s signals and has avoided hurting himself during further serious fits by lying down with Meg by his side.
Mr Ryan, a former plumber, said: "Meg has given me my life back. Before I had her I was too scared to step foot outside for long periods in case I collapsed.
"Now, though, I’m much more confident and I know that I can count on her to help me out if I suffer a fit.
"The first time I noticed her strange behaviour I thought she was just overly excited, I never thought for one moment that it was because she was sensing I was about to have a seizure.
"Three weeks after we had picked Meg up from the re-homing centre, I took her to the local shops with me and left her outside. When she saw me she immediately jumped up at me and seemed more animated than usual.
"As I walked off with her, she kept on darting around my legs as if to try and stop me from walking any further, but I didn’t take much notice. We must have got about 30 yards down the road when I collapsed. Luckily I wasn’t badly hurt, but I had to go to hospital as a precaution.
"I have suffered two fairly serious fits since then and each time Meg has acted completely the same. After the first attack I realised what she was doing when she behaves this way and I learnt to brace myself and make sure that I get into a safe recovery position."
Keith Dickinson, a dog behaviour specialist, described her abilities as a "one-off".
He said: "All dogs can pick up changes in mood and can detect fear and adrenaline, but certain breeds are more in tune with their owners than others. Collies have this natural bond and can tap into their owners’ senses. With this case, it appears to be a bit of a one-off though.
"Most dogs - especially collies - would be able to sense that their owners were about to have an epileptic fit. They would pick up a change in body odour just before the seizure.
"But most dogs would not react to it like this dog does: they would probably ignore it."