A lot of people say that getting a dog brings so much joy into a family. But there’s one couple from Utah who understand that sentiment more than most. And after experiencing a terrifying health scare, the pair learned precisely why a dog is a man’s best friend.
This story is all about an elderly man named Jim Cooper who lives in Sandy, Utah. In 2017 something happened to 82-year-old Cooper which could have proven fatal. Luckily for him, though, he had a guardian watching over him that fateful night.
It all started at about 2:00 a.m. one morning when Jim and his wife Judy were asleep in bed. But they weren’t alone. Only recently, the elderly couple had welcomed a dog into their home. The pooch was an Australian shepherd heeler-mix puppy, to be precise.
At first, Jim wasn’t totally convinced by the dog. In fact, he had even thought about returning the animal within a week of first bringing her home. But Jim and Judy stuck it out and moved on to crate-training their pet. They would thank themselves later, for sure.
On the evening in question, the puppy, named Thibodeaux, had come to sleep in the couple’s bed. And it’s lucky that she did, because she played a fundamental role in saving Jim’s life that night. The drama all started after Judy was awoken by Thibodeaux in the early hours.
It was a whining noise that disturbed Judy from her sleep. Initially, she was confused. Was her husband having a nightmare perhaps? Sadly not, it turned out to be far more serious than that. She tried to ask Jim what was wrong, but he didn’t answer her.
This was strange, so Judy leant over to turn on the light. What she saw next was very concerning. Jim was still lying in bed, but Thibodeaux was sitting on top of him. However, the pup wasn’t just being playful, not by any means.
In an interview with Deseret News conducted in March 2017, Judy recalled seeing Thibodeaux “on all fours, just sitting on [Jim’s] chest.” What’s more, the puppy was looking straight at Jim and whining.
It was at then that Judy realized that something was seriously wrong with her octogenarian husband. In fact, she knew that she needed to summon medical assistance as soon as possible. As a result, it wasn’t long before Jim was being treated in hospital.
It turned out that Jim was having a stroke. This happens when the blood supply to a section of the brain is halted, starving the tissue of vital oxygen and nutrients that are usually transported there via the blood. An extremely serious condition, stroke is actually the second largest cause of death globally.
Fortunately for Jim and Judy, though, this one wasn’t fatal. That’s right, thanks to the work of the doctors – and one other very important character – Jim survived. That other character was Thibodeaux, of course. The dog may only have been seven months old at the time, but she played a significant part in saving her master’s life.
Jim’s doctors explained that they don’t always manage to treat stroke victims, because not all sufferers make it to a medical facility in time. Happily, though, Jim’s stroke was caught early enough, and he was able to get the professional help he needed to survive.
And Judy credits their pup for making this happen. After all, had Thibodeaux not noticed that something was wrong, the dog wouldn’t have started whining. And if the dog hadn’t begun whining, then Judy may not have roused in time to call emergency services. “I guess I would have woken up the next morning and lost him,” she said.
“Without [the dog], he wouldn’t have made it,” Judy continued. So, Jim may owe his life to Thibodeaux, even though he doesn’t remember any of the drama of that night. Judy relayed him the story once he had recovered from the stroke.
Ever since then, Jim has thought differently about his furry friend. “She’s my hero,” the grateful dog owner said, when speaking to Deseret News in March 2017. “She deserves a medal. She really does.”
“Quite honestly, I was about to take her back the first week,” he joked, but it seems like it was a very good decision to keep her in the end. It’s fair to say that Thibodeaux has truly earned her place in the house now, having saved her owner’s life.
“She’s a good dog,” Jim said, before adding that Thibodeaux was now a “member of the family.” After spending only a few days in hospital, Jim was released and went home to focus on his recovery. And Thibodeaux was there to accompany him every step of the way.
Moreover, Jim is not the only man to have been saved by a loyal canine. A man named Bob from Michigan was recently kept alive by his dog after he slipped and fell, breaking his neck. Bob had only ventured outdoors to retrieve firewood when the accident happened.
However, the temperature was dangerously low, and Bob was not wearing sufficient clothing, having thought that he’d only be outside for a moment. Alone and in pain, Bob’s dog Kelsey then protected him from the cold by lying on top of him. Not only that, but the hound barked for help, too.
Eventually, 24 hours later, Bob’s neighbor heard Kelsey’s yelps and called 911. Although he needed plenty of rehab, Bob survived and has thought of Kelsey as a true hero ever since. But for their loyal dogs, then, life for both Jim and Bob could have taken a much darker turn. Happily, though, the two men lived to see another day.