Dogs have incredible instincts and ability to sense when something is wrong — sometimes, even before their humans do.
That’s the extraordinary moment captured in one viral video, as a golden retriever service dog stops playtime after noticing a medical issue with his owner — before she even realizes it.
Libbi Mattick, from the UK, is the owner of a golden retriever named Sparrow. Libbi suffers from medical conditions including seizures and fainting episodes, so Sparrow acts as her loyal service dog.
“Aged 15, I came down with a virus called labyrinthitis and never recovered,” she told Daily Mail. After years of struggling with exhaustion, ME and an eating disorder, Libbi learned about service dogs and got Sparrow in 2018, and the golden has been a life-changer ever since.
“She is constantly scanning me to read the subtle signs that my body gives off,” Libbi said. “When she senses my health deteriorating [changes in heart rate, breathing and cortisol levels], she will nudge or jump at me to tell me to sit before I fall, and then lie across my legs in a grounding technique called deep pressure therapy to help me recover.”
“I never used to be able to go out alone. Now, thanks to Sparrow, I have independence,” she added.
One video shows just how attentive and quick-acting Sparrow is. Libbi and Sparrow were playing at home with the dog’s penguin toy when suddenly Sparrow stops playing and begins exhibiting displacement behaviors, indicating something is wrong.
Libbi did not understand and thought her dog was just asking for a break from playtime. “She can be quite sensitive and I thought she was somehow sensing pressure from me…so I tried to make it clear there was no pressure to continue this game if she didn’t want to,” she wrote on Instagram.
However, it was soon clear that the dog was in fact alerting her to a medical emergency — Sparrow had remarkably realized it before Libbi herself did.
Libbi started experiencing pre-syncope symptoms — the feeling that one is about to faint — including shallow breathing, dizziness and lightheadedness. “Oh, okay, it’s me, I’m wrong,” she tells the dog.
Watch the video below:
According to the caption, Sparrow sat on Libbi’s chest for 20 minutes until the symptoms passed. Libbi says that her dog’s early detection helped prevent things from being much worse.
“Thanks to Sparrow, I managed to avoid the worst symptoms of severe nausea, almost loss of vision & hearing, collapse from upright and resulting weakness!” Libbi explained. “We then managed to get back to play shortly after, rather than it being game over for me for hours!”
The remarkable video has been viewed over 18 million times on Instagram and has over 1.5 million likes, with countless comments praising the dog’s heroic actions.
This video shows just how incredible service dogs are — smart Sparrow realized his owner was having a medical emergency even before she did.
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