Denis Roberge would not be here to flatter his dog if he had not saved his life.
The third Sunday of Easter evening, Mr. Roberge, who has type 1 diabetes, was watching TV in the living room of his residence in Vanier, Quebec City, when he collapsed on the floor.
At that moment, his wife, Lucie Marcil Roberge, was sleeping in the couple’s room. But around midnight, she was awakened by her dog, Elliot, 3, barking at the foot of the bed.
Thinking that the English doodle wanted to go outside, she asked her husband to open the door. But this one did not answer. “I got up, and when I got to the living room, he was lying on the ground in a small bowl,” she says.
Approaching, Lucie Marcil Roberge found that he was unconscious and sweaty. And she understood that Denis Roberge was in severe hypoglycemia, a condition that can lead to unconsciousness.
M me Marcil Roberge called 9-1-1. When the paramedics arrived, Denis Roberge’s blood sugar level was at a dangerously low level (0.9 mmol / L). On site, the paramedics gave him an injection in the leg, then they took him to the emergency room.
At the Saint-François d’Assise Hospital, Mr. Roberge received another intravenous medication and gradually regained consciousness.
“When I talked to the hospital, they said,” Thank him, your dog, because he saved your life, “says 57-year-old Denis Roberge. sitting on a chair in his kitchen, while the hairy hero climbed onto his wife’s lap.
Lucie Marcil Roberge believes she would have found her husband dead at sunrise if his dog had not come to wake her up. “I’m sure he came to warn me that there was something going on. It was not normal, it does not bark like that usually. ”
The stories of dogs that save their masters sometimes make headlines. And, each time, they raise questions about dogs’ ability to protect their masters.
Karl Weissenbacher, a researcher at the Messerli Research Institute at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, Austria, was not surprised by the story of Denis Roberge.
According to the dog behavior specialist, even dogs that are not trained can contribute to the safety of those who care for them.
“For this man who has collapsed, the dog has probably perceived something different, strange. And he started barking to alert his wife, “says Weissenbacher.
The researcher would not go so far as to say that dogs can understand that their masters are in danger. But they have a very strong flair to notice the sudden changes in behavior of humans they know well.
“Dogs are very good at watching us, to notice our habits,” says Karl Weissenbacher. But if we get out of this norm, the dog will realize it and he will react. ”
In the case of Mr. Roberge, the dog found that his master was not answering and, in a way, he “went to ask for help” going to wake up Ms. Marcil Roberge, notes Mr. Weissenbacher.
Trained to support people with motor or blind disabilities, service dogs can also improve the quality of life of those suffering from certain diseases such as diabetes or epilepsy.
The Austrian researcher gives the example of a young woman in her country who had an epileptic seizure during an outing. His dog, who was trained to ask for help, came home alone and barked to warn other family members, who alerted the emergency services.
The young woman was rescued just in time. “Otherwise, she would definitely be dead,” says Karl Weissenbacher.
Closer to home in Montreal, Canadian striker Max Domi, who also has type 1 diabetes, is accompanied daily by Orion, a labrador trained to sniffle hypoglycemia in people with diabetes.
If the hockey player’s sugar level is too high or too low, his dog will pass in front of him, line up on the left side, and nibble a bundle, a kind of foam stick that Mr. Domi carries on his hip.
“There are so many variables in my life as a diabetic, if I run out of sleep, eat a meal I’m not used to, eat too late, or have something different, my blood sugar is going to be problematic, “says the player in a video posted on the Canadiens official website.
Orion watches over Max Domi. As Elliot watches over Denis Roberge.