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Lifestyle & Human Interest

Man Credits Dog with Saving His Life by Waking Him Up in the Middle of Severe Heart Attack

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Dogs have a knack for sensing things we can’t. Whether it’s because of their keen sense of smell, their impressive hearing or that uncanny, ill-defined “sixth sense,” they seem to know when things are happening before we do.

Some pups have become famous for sensing fires and waking their owners. Others can tell when people are in distress behind closed doors. Some have even been known to detect cancer.

Apparently one 6-year-old pit bull/Labrador mix named Cheyenne from Gladwin County, Michigan, can tell when someone’s having a heart attack, according to how she reacted when her 52-year-old owner started experiencing one in his sleep on Jan. 20.

Most respectable dogs would probably be asleep at 2:30 a.m., but Cheyenne sensed something was wrong and “body-slammed” owner Ken Richter right back into the waking world.

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“She just body-slammed me,” he said, according to WJRT-TV. “She’s never done anything like that. She just stood up and slammed right into my back and I’ve had surgery, so she knows not to mess with my back.”

Like most pet owners, at first Richter was understandably annoyed with his pup’s seemingly errant behavior — but as he grew more lucid, he realized he was experiencing a great deal of chest pain.

“I yelled at her, because I didn’t know what she was doing, so she took off out of my bedroom and I woke up and my chest hurt so bad I could hardly breathe,” he explained.

After driving himself to the hospital and getting checked out, he was rushed by ambulance to another location.

“Within like 10 to 15 minutes, they come in and said the ambulance was coming in to transport me to Midland already,” he said. “No sooner than I got to Midland at 10:30 in the morning they put a stent in me.”

It turned out that the heart attack Richter had been experiencing in his sleep had been a severe one, with a 99 percent blockage of his left ventricle. If his 85-pound dog hadn’t slammed him out of his sleep, he could have died.

Richter’s doctor agreed, saying that Cheyenne likely woke him up in the middle of the episode.

The whole experience has given Richter a new perspective on his four-legged friend, a new gratitude for life and a goal to get a living will completed.

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“A lot of people don’t like pit bulls,” he said. “They are the most friendly, awesome family dog if they are trained right.”

Cheyenne is a great example of that — and of the fact that sometimes dogs know more than we give them credit for and watch out for us just as much as we watch out for them.

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Amanda holds an MA in Rhetoric and TESOL from Cal Poly Pomona. After teaching composition and logic for several years, she's strayed into writing full-time and especially enjoys animal-related topics.
As of January 2019, Amanda has written over 1,000 stories for The Western Journal but doesn't really know how. Graduating from California State Polytechnic University with a MA in Rhetoric/Composition and TESOL, she wrote her thesis about metacognitive development and the skill transfer between reading and writing in freshman students.
She has a slew of interests that keep her busy, including trying out new recipes, enjoying nature, discussing ridiculous topics, reading, drawing, people watching, developing curriculum, and writing bios. Sometimes she has red hair, sometimes she has brown hair, sometimes she's had teal hair.
With a book on productive communication strategies in the works, Amanda is also writing and illustrating some children's books with her husband, Edward.
Austin, Texas
Languages Spoken
English und ein bißchen Deutsch
Topics of Expertise
Faith, Animals, Cooking