The Fleetwood owner of an heroic dog today told how her pet came to her rescue by pressing an emergency button when she fell seriously ill at home.
Carol Willacy says she can’t thank her pet pooch, assistance dog Billy, enough for saving her after she fell out of her wheelchair and knocked herself unconcsious in her back garden.
Billy does everything for me. I don’t know how I would cope without him, he is my world.Carol Willacy
Carol, 45, a former accountant at a pharmaceutical company, has mobility problems as a result of severe arthritis and spinal damage which she suffered during a horse-riding accident.
She also suffers from extreme fatigue and uses a wheelchair to get around her home in Pike Court, Fleetwood.
Due to her condition, Carol decided to train her pet dog, eight-year-old Jack Russell Billy, to be a support dog, to provide practical assistance with tasks that she found difficult, or impossible to perform.
Since his training with the charity Support Dogs, in Sheffield, Billy has been able to help Carol with emptying the washing machine, opening and closing doors, taking off her shoes and coat and finding items that she asks for– including keys, her phone and the television remote control.
And, vitally, he can also press an emergency button which connects his owner’s home to Progress Housing Lifeline’s 24-hour Control Centre.
And it was exactly that ‘trick’ which Billy was called on to perform when Carol fell ill recently.
She said: “I was out in the garden when I started to struggle with my breathing, and fell out of my wheelchair and hit my head.
“It was a very cold early morning so no one was really around and I wasn’t expecting any visitors. If it hadn’t been for the falls detector I was wearing, and my dog Billy, who had gone into the house to press my alarm, I don’t know what might have happened.
“I can’t remember anything at all about it, I only really know what they told me at the hospital.
“I know I was outside at about seven in the morning and the paramedics took me to hospital between 9 and 10am, so I must have been there for a couple of hours.”
Carol’s falls detector alerted Progress Lifeline’s 24-hour Control Centre at the time of the accident while clever Billy ran back inside and pushed the emergency alarm button that he had been trained to press if Carol needed help.
On the alarm being raised, Progress Lifeline’s Control Centre staff sent out one their Emergency Mobile Responders to Caroline’s house to check if she was fine.
On arrival, they found Carol, who was still unconscious on the floor, and called for an ambulance.
She was treated at hospital by doctors who found that a chest infection was to blame for her struggling to breath.
Carol, who has no full-time carer and no relatives living nearby, added: “I can’t thank everyone enough.
“The service really is a lifeline for me, having both devices, plus the invaluable support from Billy, has given me so much more reassurance.
“Having this level of support allows me to live safely and independently in my own home.
“Billy does everything for me. I don’t know how I would cope without him, he is my world.”
Progress Lifeline is a 24-hour monitoring and emergency service provided by Lancashire-based social landlord Progress Housing Group.
It provides personal alarm support in the home to more than 10,000 people across Lancashire.