Real Stories From Dog Owners: Can Dogs Sense When People Need Them?

Can Dogs sense when owners need them? I think some can. Here are some comments from dog lovers …

Izabelle Knew Who Needed Her Most

Yes, dogs do sense when people need them. I have seen it in action with my Golden Retriever “Izabelle” on our therapy visits. When she was just nine months old we went to visit the residents at a nursing home with a therapy dog group. The residents were brought into a room and we took the dogs around to meet them. Izzy kept trying to make her way over to a gentlemen sitting by the door in a wheelchair. None of the others in our group was paying any attention to him. Finally she just pulled me over to this man. She sat down beside his chair and laid her head in his lap. He tried to pet her but his hands kept shaking, so she gently laid her head on his hands to stop the shaking and just sat there with him like that for the longest time. He lowered his head to her ear and kept whispering to her “beautiful baby” he kept repeating that in a whisper over and over to her. I looked up at the nurse standing behind his wheelchair and she had tears in her eyes. It seems this gentlemen had not spoken a word to anyone or anything in the four months he had been in the home. She was so happy that my Izabelle had brought some comfort and joy back into his life. When we went to leave, he touched my hand and thanked me for bringing Izabelle to meet him. She seems to have a gift for knowing the one person who needs her the most when we visit nursing homes.

Wendy Young and Izabelle from Lakeland, Florida

Tui Could Sense a Seizure

My brother’s dog, Tui, is a 4 year old Irish Wolfhound x Dalmatian. On their way to move interstate they stayed a few nights at a friends house. This friend has ‘fits’ like epilepsy, but caused by physical abuse as a child. One morning the friend came home after night shift and as usual, gave Tui her breakfast and sat down to relax before going to sleep. On this morning Tui didn’t eat her breakfast (which is very unusual) and stuck very close to our friend. A couple of hours later our friend regained consciousness after having a ‘fit’ with Tui laying quietly next to her. She still hadn’t eaten her breakfast. This event confirmed my belief in animal therapy and companionship. Tui is really a gentle soul in a giant’s body!


There are Two Kinds of Dogs that Can sense when Someone Needs Them

I believe there are two “kinds” of dogs that can sense when someone needs them. The first is that special dog that just has the knack and can sense needs in people it doesn’t know. The second is when you bond with your pet so tightly that he senses those needs. I find this very true in rescued dogs, perhaps more so because I rescue Boxers.

My Murphy came to me as a scared, frightened 2 year old boy and had been abandoned to live outside and suffer the consequences of thunderstorms, winters and loud noises. I was diagnosed with Systemic Lupus many years ago and it has progressed to a point that I frequently have difficulties getting out of a chair, and certainly off the floor, due to the pain. It took Murphy 2 years to find his confidence and happiness but he did and we were joined not only at the hip but also in the heart. As my disease progressed I noticed Murphy coming to me when I was feeling un-well and then when I was struggling out of chairs. He would softly lay his head in my lap or stand quietly by me. I eventually caught on to what he was trying to show me and put my hand on his back as he got as close to me as possible so that he could help. With Murphy my heart not only grew but my mobility increased.

Sadly, Murphy passed away in November of 2007. A greater loss has never been experienced in my home but I should have known Murphy would send me Jesse who reads my Lupus almost as well as Murphy!

Dawn Lynch

When MY Husband Was Dying

When my husband was in a hospice dying, they allowed me to bring his dog, Rocket, to visit him in his final days. The bed was designed so that it could be lowered to the floor level so he could hold and love on his dog. Somehow Rocket sensed that this was his final time to see his best friend. My daughter took Rocket home that afternoon. When Rocket entered the house, he ran to my husband’s chair and climbed up in it. He then proceeded to howl. He had never done this before and never did it again. My husband died the next day. I would send you a picture of Rocket, but unfortunately he, too, has passed on. Since my husband desired to be cremated, I also had Rocket cremated and their ashes were spread together.

My Dog was There when Disaster Struck

Two years ago our Shepherd/Husky cross Riley was only 7-8 months old when disaster struck. My wife Sharon blew two discs in her back, and was laid up for weeks in terrible pain.
During the ensuing x-rays and treatment, it was discovered that she had early stage breast cancer. As it turns out, the back injury probably saved her life. But now she was terrified as well as in pain. As she laid on the couch trying to find a comfortable position, Riley, who was normally a wild and crazy puppy, already huge for his age, would stop his zanies, come over to “Mom”, and lick her face and arms, hug her with his face against hers, and just lay down on the floor beside her for hours. He would just lay there staring at her, loving her, and trying to lift her spirits, day after day.

Weeks later, Sharon’s back condition improved, the cancer was removed, and she was given a great long-term prognosis. Riley went back to his normal, zany self. He hasn’t been so intensely warm and loving since. Nobody will ever convince us that he didn’t feel Sharon’s pain and anxiety, and react in the only way he knew, to help Mom get through.

We now have two more dogs, and we love them all, but Riley will always have a special place in Sharon’s heart.


Lucy Comforts “Dad”

In February Lucy’s dad, Mark, wasn’t feeling well. He was achy all over and tired. As soon as he came in the door, he went straight to bed and fell asleep (after of course, he loved on Lucy). It didn’t take 10 minutes for Lucy to evaluate the situation and curl up in her dad’s arms. She was trying so hard to make him feel better and it was so adorable. She did not want to move; she knew her daddy didn’t feel well and she was making him better. She didn’t even fall asleep; she was awake, concentrating on him.

Attached are a couple photos of her working to make her daddy feel better. She ALWAYS knew exactly what we were thinking… sometimes it was scary!

Thanks for giving us the opportunity to share about our pets.

April Fowler

Their Presence Helped Me More Than I Can Ever Say

Hello – I read Dr. Debra’s message asking for personal stories of how dogs sense when someone needs them due to illness etc. One morning in April 2005, I woke up in excruciating pain and was unable to raise my arms and get out of bed to call for help. I had double vision and my balance was off. I had every symptom of MS, but after numerous tests, it was determined I did not have the underlying disease. Something triggered an autoimmune response that attacked my central nervous system. I had to learn to hold a fork again, to dress myself again, to walk without a limp etc. All with excruciating pain. I have 2 toy poodles that at the time were 2 & 3 years old. Still young, playful dogs. Somehow they knew that I was sick and they stayed with me during the worst of it. When I was in pain, they stayed quiet and just their presence helped more than I can ever say. I knew when I was getting better because they started playing again. They could sense that I was better and it was OK to go back to life again. I can’t ever repay them for how they helped me through one of the lowest points in my life. But then, just being with me is all they seem to want in return. That is what is so great about dogs. They don’t care how much money I have, how old I am or how I look etc. As long as they can share my life, they are sticking with me. I would do anything for them.

“We must let go of the life we have planned in order to have the life that is waiting”

Joseph Campbell

My Husband Said He Didn’t Feel Well

In August of 2006 my husband said that he didn’t feel well. All day he said he just didn’t feel right. His chest was tight and he was feeling sick to his stomach. He figured he was just getting the flu and decided to lay down for a while. Any other time he would lay down our 2 miniature pinchers would jump up and lay on him or by him. This day neither of our dogs would go near my husband. They laid down about 6 feet away from him and just watched him. It freaked my husband out so much that he said that the dogs acting the way they did made him feel that he should call his doctor. Upon hearing his symptoms his doctor sent us immediately to the ER and sure enough my husband had a heart attack when after we arrived there.

We still credit the dog’s actions for my husband going to the hospital and being there when he had his heart attack thus getting him immediate care. He had a stent put in his heart and is now taking medications along with taking better care of himself so he doesn’t have another attack. You should know that my husband is the type of person that never goes to the doctor unless he is deathly sick so for him to say the dogs are acting weird so maybe I should call the doctor is unbelievable. We always loved our dogs but now we call them our lifesavers!

Patrick and Terri Luft
Selinsgrove, Pa

Sammy Gave Me His Best

Yes I believe dogs can sense when people need them. A former neighbor of mine gained a dog after her “Grandson” refused to go home after a visit. Turns out my neighbor had cancer and Henri (pronounced ornery) protectively watches over her as she goes through her chemotherapy treatments.

A little more than a week after I got my own dog I had my own experience. Sammy was nearly a year old when I brought him home from my local shelter. We were practicing our obedience lessons when he took off and dragged me into (over) a headstone. When I came to my senses I thought it was over. The cemetery faced the highway and Sammy barely knew his name and we hadn’t gotten up to “Come” in the lesson plan yet. Both of my knees were skinned and my foot had disconnected from the rest of my leg.

Sammy had come back and was sitting in my blind spot. When he licked my bloody knee and I burst out crying. Together we limped to the car. This would be the one and only time Sammy would get into the car on his own. Imagine me showing up to Obedience School the following week and trying to lift a full-grown black lab into the back seat while balancing on crutches.

Maybe he just felt guilty but for the rest of the day he didn’t leave my side. He spent the rest of the evening lying on top of me on the sofa. It would be months before he mastered the art of “Heel”, “Come”, and “Stay” but on that day I saw the best in Sammy.

Des Moines, IA

Ducan Can Sense My Mom’s Illness

I truly believe that dogs can sense when people need them. My mother is 72 years old, and she has Alzheimer’s disease. My parents have a Scottish Terrier named Duncan who is four years old, and who has lived with them since the onset of my mother’s illness. My mom absolutely dotes on this dog, and he clings to her like she is the only person on earth. When she is having an especially bad day, he seems to know, and he will not move from her side. I, along with other family members, have remarked on many occasions that Duncan has an uncanny ability to sense my mom’s illness and takes care of her. He is truly an amazing dog! I have enclosed a picture of Duncan as a puppy. I
hope you enjoy it.

Sue Richards
Troy, MI

Taco Knows and Is By Our Sides

I would like to share a story about my dog Taco. Taco is a chihuahua/papillon mix that I rescued two years ago from our local shelter. He was just three months old and I couldn’t resist him, after all he was terrified and wanted to be loved and I had just separated from my husband and wanted someone that would love me. We were a match made in heaven. I have since developed a progressive, terminal physical disability and am often left in terrible pain due to this illness. I also have a son that is physically disabled and he requires surgery on his back every six months. Taco is not only adorable, but very loving as well. When either myself of my son is hurting Taco is right there by our sides. If I cry from pain, he will lick my hand until I stop. If I can’t get out of bed, he will lay there curled up next to me and wont move. He won’t eat, drink or go potty; he’ll just lay there. If my daughter picks him up and takes him outside, he will stand in one spot until he’s brought back inside and then he runs right back to me. He does the same thing for my son. If we are both o.k. then Taco runs and plays with our kitties and other dogs. Many times I have just wanted comfort from the pain and he has always provided that comfort by just being next to me.

Angel Wells
Martinsburg WV

Thank You Sparky – for Your Love and Care

After suffering a serious personal loss, I went into very severe depression. It was so bad that I could hardly get out of bed. My Portuguese water dog sensed my pain. Even though she knew not to jump on the furniture, one day she decided to leap up into the bed and quietly lay down next to my head and stare into my eyes. I could see how affected she was. That day, I decided to seek professional help. Quite frankly, the dog’s interference probably kept me from committing suicide. The dog has since passed on. However, our close bond is not broken. Thank you, Sparky, for your love and caring.

Diane in Auburn, CA

When I was 13…

I KNOW dogs particularly sense when there is need for them to show they care.

When I was 13 (I am near retirement age now) my Mother had to go into hospital for an operation. We had a small miniature poodle that was a little dynamo! Although she was my dog, she loved my Mother the most and pined while she was in hospital. When Mum came home, I had been instructed to take the dog out for a walk, so Mum could settle in with a cushion strategically placed, for the inevitable greeting. As soon as we rounded the corner, Candy ‘knew’ Mum was home. (Don’t ask me how. We didn’t have a car, nor was there any indication she was home.) She pulled on her lead and couldn’t wait to be released. She then sped into the room, but on reaching Mum’s feet, stopped dead and oh, so gently jumped onto Mum’s lap where she lay quietly, just content to be with the one she loved most. She knew she mustn’t fidget or fuss. It was remarkable!

Hope you enjoy my little story.

With regards,

Barbara Ridgley

Snicker Knew Where to Avoid

My fiancé and I own a Miniature Pinscher that is almost 9-months-old and whose name is Snicker. He usually is very active and likes to play around a lot. If he could do all this activities without sleeping, I am pretty sure he would do it. So, my fiancé went under surgery (minor surgery) a few days ago and the doctor recommended her to avoid the dog playing around her for a while. Although the surgery was something small, we have tried to keep Snicker as far as possible. At the beginning it was very hard for me, well for us, because we were able to see that Snicker was not happy at all. He couldn’t play with his “mom” at all so we think that that was affecting him. Amazingly, the dog “learned” that there were some areas in mom’s body that he couldn’t touch so now, every now and then during the day he would jump over the bed and STAY at my fiancé’s feet. He barely walks towards her head and cuddle a little bit and that’s it. As soon as I go home after work, he would jump over me and starts playing with me, but when he is around my fiancé, he stays very steady and focused. Most of the time when my fiancé is suffering from some pain, Snicker would stay very close to her watching over her, I guess. Snicker has been a blessing to us. We treat him like a baby, and his “grandparents” are as happy as we are, especially my dad since he is a retired Vet. Hopefully you will get to read our story and share it.

Blessings from Panama City, Panama!

Cesar Gabriel Diaz