Link: Tails of Love – AARP Magazine – Lifestyle
Early Spring floods in 2007 had inundated the flat neighborhoods and farms around the eastern Indiana house of the Keesling family. Their home’s basement had taken on some 30,000 gallons of water, and a gasoline pump had been set up to empty it. After the family went to bed, a crack in the pump’s venting system caused carbon monoxide to pour into the home’s heat ducts.
Cathy Keesling had closed all the windows in the house, save one on the first floor where Winnie, the gray-and-black-striped cat the family had rescued from a barn years before, was sleeping. When deadly gas filled the house, Cathy’s teenage son, Michael, fell unconscious in the hallway. Cathy and her husband, Eric, were slowly sinking into unconsciousness as well. Winnie had been breathing the clear night air, so she was the only living creature in the house that could tell something was wrong. But rather than escaping through the open window, Winnie raced over to Cathy.
“Winnie was pulling my hair and yowling in my ear,” Cathy recalls of her normally mellow cat’s unusual behavior. “I would wake up and pass out again. Every time I passed out, Winnie would wake me up again.”
Cathy managed to rouse herself and dial 911, but the gas knocked her out before she could tell the operator what was going on. The dispatcher sent out a state trooper and sheriff’s deputies, who dragged the family onto the porch and into the fresh air. A firefighter found Winnie in a closet.
Everyone recovered after many hours in the hospital, where the dire nature of their situation became clear. “The deputy sheriff told me that if Winnie had waited five more minutes to get us up, we’d all be dead,” Cathy Keesling says. “I’m so proud of her.
“I guess because we saved her life, she saved ours.”
“The deputy sheriff told me that if Winnie had waited five more minutes to wake us up, we’d all be dead.”
For more stories: Tails of Love – AARP Magazine – Lifestyle
Four-year-old Charley, a West Highland white terrier in Atlanta, is not a search-and-rescue dog. In fact, when Charley made his lifesaving rescue last year, his owner wasn’t even aware that anyone needed help. One August day the little dog began urgently pacing and barking to be let out of the house. Owner Frances Gippert clicked Charley’s leash onto his collar and opened the front door. He dragged her away from their usual route and toward a yard three doors away, where Roy Monie lay semiconscious and badly bruised. Monie had fallen off a ladder and had suffered a brain hemorrhage. If Charley hadn’t found him—no one knows how—so that Gippert could call 911, Monie likely would have died. Since then, Monie and his family have embraced Gippert, who had lost both parents and her sister to cancer. Last year they all celebrated Christmas together. “This whole process has been very emotionally moving for me,” says Gippert, who was working from home after a difficult divorce. “It has changed my life. I just wanted to stay in my house, me and Charley,” she says. “Roy didn’t let that happen.”