We all know that service dogs save lives, but at times this takes on a new meaning. We were recently contacted by a past recipient who shared this uplifting story of how her SD saved her life….and perhaps the lives of others that day as well.
The woman, who chooses to remain anonymous, was visiting family out of town, and decided to explore the new city by taking her SD for a walk. While walking along a man passed close by…and then without warning turned and punched her in the face, fracturing her cheekbone and knocking her to the ground. He snatched her purse and ran, confident that he would get away. What he failed to take into account was a phenomenon known as “intelligent disobedience“.
The FSDS trains our SDs to remain within 2 feet of the handler at all times, quietly allowing the handler to assume team leadership and make decisions. They are also trained, as in the case of this dog, to retrieve objects for the handler. Intelligent disobedience is said to occur when a SD behaves outside of normal rules in response to a situation where they perceive that their handler is in danger. Though witnesses acted quickly and ran to help, the suspect would have easily gotten away as he had a good lead.
The SD acted quickly, running after the suspect and with a flying tackle knocked him to the ground, holding him at bay until the witnesses caught up and were able to restrain the attacker. The SD then quietly backed up, retrieved the stolen purse and carried it back to his handler! He remained at her side quietly throughout the police and ambulance response, and her subsequent hospital treatment.
The police noted that this suspect was a known violent felon, and they did indeed locate a gun on him. They noted that if the SD had not acted quickly, the suspect would have likely gotten away, and attacked others that day, perhaps even shooting and killing someone. They hailed the SD as a hero.
When they asked the suspect why he had targeted this woman, he reportedly replied “because she is a cripple”. When asked if he did not notice that she had a large dog with her, he reportedly admitted that he thought SDs were supposed to sit and do nothing. Lesson learned!
This SD was trained in the FSDS program by local teens. Though they could not have imagined this at the time that they devoted 18 months of their lives to train the dog, through their hard work and dedication they helped to save the life of this woman and others in the community. Never underestimate the power of a teen…or a SD.