Cardiac-Alert Dog Documentary is a Heartwarming Love Story [Video]
Boston artist Marty Harris lived for many years unable to do many things that others could. She was never able to run or hike without becoming faint and weary. It was only when she was diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat that led to a chronic fainting disorder did things make sense.
Harris remembers a lifetime of fainting and passing out, even once at her son’s preschool, with frightened children crying around her. In 2006, her life changed, when a black Labrador Retriever named Adele gave her new hope.
Adele became her service dog, and as one of the world’s first cardiac-alert dogs, she became Harris’ lifeline. Harris says that with Adele by her side, she felt the confidence to go out and do things without being afraid to faint and pass out.
She initially tested four seizure-alert dogs with the Canine Partners for Life program in Pennsylvania, looking to see if any them had the ability to pick up the sensitivity of her heartbeat. Three of the dogs were able to do most of the things that were necessary as part of the testing, but one was different. That one was Adele, who refused to let Harris go back up the hill they’d walked down as part of the testing. She put herself on Harris’s feet and wouldn’t get up. It seemed as if Adele was the one who knew and already was on the job.
Adele will let Harris know if she needs to stop and sit or even lie on the floor because a fainting spell was coming on. This dog is so skilled that she has even alerted complete strangers to a health issue, as it is her instinct to alert and protect.
“Adele and Everything After” is an video-on-demand documentary that highlights Harris and Adele’s journey together, including what happened when Adele retired after nine years of faithful service. It’s been shown at 15 film festivals in the U.S. and Canada, and director Melissa Dowler calls it a love story about the power of unconditional love.
Adele is still with Harris, though she has a new service dog named Hector. The pair of dogs help Harris around the house, but as she’s aging, Adele is slowing. A fund to help her retire and continue the training of cardiac-alert dogs has been set up so that Harris can help others continue working for their freedom. Adele’s hearing and vision are poor, but that doesn’t stop her from trying to still take care of her Mama. Harris says that can be hard because she’s not up to the skills she once was, but out of love still attempts them, and turning her brain off ‘protection and alert’ mode isn’t easy.
Harris says that Hector understands that Adele is still top dog and will allow her to alert Harris still, as if they have their own language they use to protect their charge.
Watch the trailer above or order to watch the whole movie on iTunes.
More by Lori Ennis