One day, Brian Myers knew that he needed help when he fell to the floor; he had no feeling on his left side and didn’t have the strength to stand up.
“It was really frightening — I couldn’t get up and I didn’t realise at that moment that I’d had a stroke,” he said.
“My cellphone was on the dresser about 15 feet away, but there was no way I could get to it.”
Seconds later Brian felt something wet and rough on his face: his dog’s tongue.
Sadie, the German shepherd he had rescued from an animal shelter four months ago, was standing above him with a look of concern on her face.
“I don’t know how she did it, but she knew.”
“She kept licking me and crying, so I reached my right hand up to pet her, then I grabbed her collar,” recalled Myers.
Brian was stunned by what happened next. Sadie began to pull Brain inch by inch and wiggle him towards his dressing table.
“She was not trained as a service dog, but she was in distress over what was happening and she could tell that I was in trouble,” he said.
A few minutes later, Brian was in front of the dresser where he could reach his mobile and phone for help.
At Englewood Health hospital that night, Brian had an MRI which showed that he had suffered from a stroke. Doctors at the hospital confirmed that if it wasn’t for Sadie, that Brian may have passed away – she saved his life.
“It was the best decision I’d ever made to adopt her,” said Brian, who has managed to get most of his mobility back after his accident.
“I really feel it was meant to be.”
Brain’s loneliness encouraged him to adopt Sadie four months ago; he is retired and lives alone, and he felt that some company would do him a world of good.
“I decided it would be a good idea to get a dog after all the time I’d sat in my house by myself,” he said.
“I’d had a rescue dog before, but I had to put him down a couple of years ago. I was ready for another one.”
Brian also caught COVID earlier in the year, and after he had recovered a friend who is familiar with the Ramapo-Bergen Animal Refuge emailed him a photo of Sadie and he was immediately intrigued.
Sadie had been identified by the shelter as “hard to place” because of her aggressive behaviour.
“The refuge often accepts dogs such as Sadie that are rejected by other shelters because they can’t get adopted due to behaviour issues,” said Megan Brinster, Ramapo-Bergen’s Executive Director.
“Staff workers and volunteers train the animals in the hope that bad behaviours can be eliminated and make them more adoptable.”
Within minutes of meeting Sadie, she and Brian were playing fetch with a ball.
“When I first saw Sadie, I thought, ‘Wow, that’s one big dog,’ ” Brian recalled.
“I believe that her size is one of the reasons they had a problem placing her.”
When the adoption was finalised, Brian directly went to the pet shop to buy her a big bag of food, bones, and a comfy bed.
“I kept looking in the rearview mirror and saying, ‘Wow, what a big girl!’ ” he said.
As soon as Brian welcomed her into his home, she stood on her hind legs and put her paws on his shoulder and give him a big lick – almost to say thank you.
“I knew that I wanted to make the rest of her year’s happy ones,” Brian says.
On their first night together, Brian discovered that Sadie’s idea of happiness involved sleeping with him in his bed – leaving her new comfy bed to the side.
“She’d start on the pillow next to mine, then end up sleeping at the foot of the bed,” he said.
“It became her routine. I thought, ‘After all she’s been through, who am I to deny her the pleasure of sleeping in a bed?’ ”
In December, Brian caught COVID and Sadie stayed by his side until he was better!
A few weeks later, Brain stood up, and his legs buckled, to which he was informed that COVID might have brought on blood clots in his legs.
When Brian was released from the rehab centre, his brother brought Sadie for a reunion in the car park.
Brain wept as Sadie jumped up and smothered him with kisses – overjoyed to see that was he going back home with her.
“She knocked my glasses off and kept licking my face,” he said.
“And all I could do was just hug her close and say, ‘I love you.’ ”