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Hero dog: Man’s life-saving best friend deserving of a medal

Babouche saved Phil Godley’s life by nudging him toward a phone when he was suddenly paralyzed. (Photo by Kristine Berey)

Babouche saved Phil Godley’s life by nudging him toward a phone when he was suddenly paralyzed. (Photo by Kristine Berey)

A few years ago a U.K. Labrador retriever called Endal captured the public’s imagination when he saved his injured owner’s life by bringing him his cellphone.

Named Dog of the Millennium, Endal appeared in the media, a book was written about his life and he earned the Gold Medal of Animal Gallantry, the highest award bestowed on an animal in the U.K.

If we had an equivalent medal, surely it would go to Babouche who shares the excellent temperament and intelligence of all labs and is as much a true hero and life-saver as the famous Endal.

Ten years ago, N.D.G. resident Phil Godley, 37, woke up knowing something wasn’t right.

“I thought I was just tired and decided to go back to bed,” he recalls.

“A couple of hours later I tried to get up but couldn’t. The whole right side of my body was paralyzed. It was weird.”

Godley knew he had to get to a telephone “to call somebody, anybody,” and made an enormous effort to move.

“I fell to the ground and Babouche came and lay next to me. I told her I need help and she sort of nudged me all the way along.”

To this day, Godley doesn’t know how the dog knew which direction to push him in. “She was pushing me with her head, maybe it was just a love pat or something.”

Godley had lost his speech and could only murmur into the phone. He could not reach anyone at first, since this was before the advent of cellphones, and nobody was home. It was his boss, who had expected him to show up at work, who finally came to look for him.

“It took a while, over five hours, then everybody showed up at once,” Godley said.

“The whole time she didn’t pee or poop in the house, she just lay next to me, on the floor with me the whole time.”

Rehab was a long road—Godley remembers it as the most painful time in his life. “Three months felt like three years,” he said.

When he returned to live at his parents’ house, “Babouche came with me and she was happy.”

After three months, walking around the block took an hour and it was a year until Godley felt confident enough to walk Babouche again.

When asked what he thinks would have happened had she not been with him at the time, he says: “I couldn’t have called for help and I guess I would have died.”

Today Godley and Babouche walk with a limp, Babouche’s being more noticeable because of arthritis. Godley is working and has resumed his life, though he figures he is still recovering. Doctors tell him he is a “miracle case.”

Babouche at 12 is the eternal puppy, with a nonstop thump-thump of her tail on the floor as she lies down to be petted, ever seeking affection, like the best of her breed.

Heroes have many faces, and so do guardian angels. And sometimes they really look like dogs.

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