Family Dog Alerts Parents to a Teen’s Stroke and Saves His Life

Angela Vuckovic
by Angela Vuckovic
Ksenia Raykova/Shutterstock

Dogs are so deserving of their title – man’s best friend - and they continue to prove it day in and day out. From being our best friends to providing irreplaceable acts of service to people in need, there’s so much that dogs do that makes a difference and this story only proves it.

The fateful event took place in Spring, Texas, where the family Tanner lives, alongside their precious pooch, Axel. Axel is a 1-year-old  border collie, a rescue that quickly became a cherished member of the family and, as life would have it, their savior. It was around 5 am on a calm Saturday morning when Axel – completely out of the ordinary – jolted Amanda and her husband from their sleep. And it was no regular attention-seeking behavior. Something was amiss, and Axel was determined to let the couple know.

“He was pawing me more than normal to get me to move,” Mr. Tanner explains for Realizing that the dog was clearly trying to wake them, Amanda’s husband went downstairs to check on things and let the dog outside. Axel refused. It wasn’t the outdoors he was seeking - there was something else. He quickly stopped in front of the closed doors of the 17-year-old Gabriel Tanner. 

Mr. Tanner went inside to check up on his son but realized what was the cause of the dog’s panic. Young Gabriel was having a stroke, his speech was slurred, and he could not feel his right side. At once they rushed him to the emergency room at the Memorial Hermann the Woodlands Medical Center. 

Young Gabriel was quickly treated and made a recovery. Dr. Sabih Effendi, who treated him, says that “by waking the parents up, and leading them to the boy, the dog made a “massive” difference in Gabriel’s outcome”. 

“It’s very amazing that their dog alerted and started this whole process of getting everyone awake and going downstairs,” Effendi continues. “When somebody’s acutely having a stroke, the neurons are dying. … If he was not found and another three or four hours went by, there would have been more and more and more brain injury.”

The Tanner family is extremely grateful to have had Axel by their side in this crucial moment. They can only wonder what would have happened if the dog wasn’t there. He practically saved Gabriel’s life. 

“We wouldn’t have thought to go into Gabriel’s room and wake him up. He’s a teenager. It was a Saturday morning. We went to bed late. We wouldn’t think to go in there until maybe noon,” Amanda says.

Nowadays, Axel is a precious member of their family and tends to follow Gabriel wherever he goes. He also sleeps with the teen a lot more, always on the lookout for anything out of the ordinary. A true four-legged friend and proof that dogs can be loyal to no end! 

Angela Vuckovic
Angela Vuckovic

A proud mama to seven dogs and ten cats, Angela spends her days writing for her fellow pet parents and pampering her furballs, all of whom are rescues. When she's not gushing over her adorable cats or playing with her dogs, she can be found curled up with a good fantasy book.

More by Angela Vuckovic