Guide dog ‘saved ill owner by pressing alarm’

A GUIDE dog who saved its terminally ill owner’s life by pressing an alarm button is now in the running for a top award.
A guide dog who rescued his terminally ill owner is up for an award. Picture: TSPLA guide dog who rescued his terminally ill owner is up for an award. Picture: TSPL
A guide dog who rescued his terminally ill owner is up for an award. Picture: TSPL

Susanne McCafferty, 48, who is blind and suffering from a rare spinal cancer, believes if Garner - her six-year-old retriever cross - hadn’t pushed her community care team alarm button when she was “extremely ill”, she wouldn’t be alive today.

Garner is now in line for Guide Dog Scotland’s Above The Call Of Duty Award, after Mrs McCafferty’s 29-year-old son Edwin, nominated him.

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Mrs McCafferty, from Mintlaw, Aberdeenshire said: “Garner saved my life by activating the alarm button.

“He is by my side 24/7 so he knows instantly when something isn’t right. Garner is my rock and soulmate.”

In March this year, Mrs McCafferty’s illness took a turn for the worst when she fell into a deep sleep and Garner couldn’t wake her up.

She said: “My husband left for work early just as normal.

“Garner gets fed twice a day, and he knows exactly what times he gets fed at.

“I think he must have came to wake me up because he was hungry and started to panic when I wouldn’t wake up.


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“That’s when he triggered the panic button at the side of my bed which alerts the community care team.

“Luckily enough they managed to get in touch with my husband and he came home and called an ambulance.

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“The doctors thought that my time had came but luckily I recovered.

“We have Garner to thank for it all.”

Mrs McCafferty’s son, Edwin added: “While Garner knew something was wrong he couldn’t alert her but, somehow he managed to to put his paw on the fob and alerted the community care team by triggering the alarm.

“I feel that if Garner had not done this, my mum would no longer be alive.”

Mrs McCafferty previously worked as a nurse before becoming terminally ill.

She said that she became blind in one eye due to an incident with a patient, but afterwards became completely blind due to her diabetes.

Mrs McCafferty said: “I was diagnosed with cancer in 2010, I was diagnosed the very same day I qualified to have Garner as a guide dog.

“I wake up every day for Garner.

“I have my husband Paul, who is fantastic with me but has to go to work like everyone else.

“Where as Garner stays with me the whole day - I have so much to thank him for.

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“Guide dogs aren’t trained to do what he did - he just seems to have instinct. He makes me fight my cancer.”

Mrs McCafferty and Edwin will travel to London on Wednesday 10 December for the awards ceremony.

Mrs McCafferty added: “No matter what happens, Garner will always be my winner.

“When I die, Guide Dogs Scotland have promised me that Garner will retire and will be able to live with Paul at home.

“This makes me feel better because he is my boy, and Paul will still have a part of me with him.”

The Guide Dogs Annual Awards celebrates the work of charity, guide dogs and their owners.

Guide Dogs’ Edinburgh mobility team manager, Colin Gallagher said: “I am thrilled that Susanne and Edwin are finalists - this significant achievement is well deserved.”



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