Brenda Stowers, 62, said lung cancer was taking its toll on the morning of Aug. 8. She felt short-winded and was planning to go to the doctor later that day. But when she woke up in the morning, after sleeping on the couch in the living room, she felt even worse. All she was capable of doing was dialing 911.
But she didn’t know how the emergency medical technicians would get in once they arrived.
“I couldn’t get up to answer the door, and I couldn’t call my husband because he was in the bedroom with the door shut,” Brenda said.
So her 7-year-old toy poodle, Brandi, went into action.
“I didn’t know anything was going on,” said Brenda’s husband, Steve Stowers. “She came and scratched on the door until I woke up, which is not like her to scratch like that.”
Steve said he entered the living room and found his wife short of breath and barely able to speak. He was able to immediately open the door for the EMTs when they arrived to take her to WellStar Cobb Hospital. Brenda was short of breath, and any delay in letting the paramedics could have been critical.
“She was shutting down,” Steve said. “It could have been real bad. She’s also got a bad heart and all that stress.”
Even the EMTs banging on the door trying to get in could have been problematic, Brenda said, because it would have made her more upset.
“I know that my life would have been saved, I know the EMTs would have gotten in the house, but what Brandi did kept me from going through so much suffering,” Brenda said. “The difference she made was in the speed of getting things done and the ability of having someone in there right away who can look at the situation and get me in a more comfortable situation and get me to the hospital.”
Brenda spent more than two weeks in the hospital and was released Aug. 23. She was first diagnosed with lung cancer in 1995. After she underwent surgery and chemotherapy, Brenda’s cancer went into remission until earlier this year, when an inoperable form of cancer returned.
Brenda said she wasn’t alert while Brandi helped her, and didn’t find out about the dog’s actions until a friend recounted the tale weeks later.
“She knew I was in distress,” Brenda said of the dog. “I don’t know how she knew. She had to know something was not right.”
While Brenda said her long-term prognosis is not good, she says the cancer is “kind of dormant.” Her breathing is aided by a stent doctors placed in her pulmonary airway.
“I have been given some more time, and I attribute that to my little doggie,” she said.
Now, Steve said Brandi is keeping constant watch on Brenda.
“Brandi is real smart and really attentive,” he said. “She stays right next to her and won’t let her out of her sight. If (Brenda) gets up to go to the bathroom, she’s right behind her.”