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Friend for life

What Pat Tureaud thought was real love 15 years ago nearly killed her.

After an abusive husband left the 55-year-old paralyzed on one side, she admits the thought of loving again was painful. But she eventually opened her heart and claims it has saved her life.

Tureaud moved to Nevada County to start a new life shortly after being paralyzed. After years of solitude, she opened her heart to Happy, a 3-year-old Whippett-Labrador mix. Little did she know the certified guide dog would save her life.



Two weeks ago, it was 21 degrees outside and the heat stopped working in Tureaud’s home. She turned on the gas stove for heat and curled into a blanket with her beloved dog. But Happy wouldn’t sit still.

“She took me outside four times,” Tureaud said. “She was persistent about it.”




By the fourth time, Tureaud said the smell of gas hit her hard. She had an instant headache similar to what she felt before her stroke 15 years ago. Happy sensed the danger and was trying to get Tureaud outside the house.

Tureaud said the fire department told her if she had fallen asleep that night, she likely wouldn’t have awakened.

Animal behaviorist D.B. Cameron said dogs have a magnified sense of smell. That, combined with generally protective behaviors, is one explanation of why dogs often save their owners in such situations, Cameron said.

Dogs pick up on odors long before humans, feel an urgency to get out and want to take their beloved owners with them. That was probably the case for Happy, he said.

“Theses dogs are more than just pets … they’re really special,” Tureaud said.

Happy truly loves her, Tureaud said. To show how much she loves Happy, Tureaud bought her a bone and brand new cape.


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