Owner Credits Dog With Saving His Life - NBC10 Boston

Owner Credits Dog With Saving His Life

Elliott Nerland was in full cardiac arrest, but survived

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    Owner Credits Dog With Saving His Life

    A rescued pit bull is being credited with saving her owner's life. (Published Tuesday, June 23, 2015)

    "Sweet Dee" is being called a hero after coming to her owner's need in a time of serious trouble.

    On May 2, the 6-year-old pit bull discovered Elliott Nerland of West Roxbury, Massachusetts, unresponsive on the couch. He was in full cardiac arrest.

    The pup ran into the bedroom where Elliott's wife, Erin, was asleep. "Dee" began barking and nudging Erin until she woke. The dog then led Erin to where Elliott was.

    Elliott said, "She was sleeping in our guest bedroom and we don't know if she came out here to wake me up or came out here and could tell that I wasn't breathing. She went in and woke my wife in our bedroom, jumped on the bed barked a little bit and started nudging at her."

    Photo credit: Elliott Nerland

    Erin immediately called 911 and started CPR.

    Elliott was hospitalized for several days in a medically induced coma, but survived. He credits "Dee" with saving his life.

    "Dee" is a rescued pit bull, who was adopted from the MSPCA-Angell five years ago.

    The MSPCA's behaviorist, Dr. Terri Bright, also sees a parallel between the dog's quick thinking and the training philosophy the MSPCA advocates, one that focus on rewards vs. punishment. Because of her training background, according to Dr. Bright, "Dee" felt more comfortable barking and raising a ruckus over a situation she found confusing and worrisome, vs. staying quiet for fear of punishment.

    In the weeks after he was released from the hospital, Elliot and his best friend have been spending a lot of time together.

    Elliott said, "Every time I would leave the room she would follow me into the other room or if I went outside she was coming with me. So she's been kind of attached at the hip."

    Elliott thinks the hallmarks of Sweet Dee's breed - protective instincts and loyalty - might be what clued her in to saving him.

    He added, "I will always always plan on having a dog and a pit bull for than matter, my wife and I are just in love with the breed. She is just a fantastic, fantastic dog."