1. ITV Report

Dog saves epileptic owner's life more than 100 times

Sara Russell with her dog, Sheeba. Photo: ITV

When 28-year-old Sara Russell was diagnosed with epilepsy aged 17, it knocked her confidence, so she bought a dog, Sheeba, when she was 19 to help her.

Months later, Sheeba saved Sara's life when she had a fit and fell in the road. Since then, Sheeba has saved her life over 100 times. Despite receiving no formal training, Sheeba senses a fit and stops Sara hurting herself. Now Sara wouldnt be without her.

I would be completely lost without her. She's the best thing that's ever happened to me.

I got to the point with my epilepsy where I wouldn't leave the house but she has given me back my independence.

– Sara Russell, Sheeba's owner.
Sheeba has saved Sara's life more than 100 times Credit: ITV

One afternoon, Sheeba and Sara went out together for a walk. But suddenly everything went black. She woke up, lying on the side of the road, looking up at Sheeba and a passerby. The man told her shed had an epileptic fit in the middle of the road, a car was coming and so Sheeba had dragged Sara to the safety of the pavement.

She even barks loudly to attract my fiances attention so he can get help. Whenever she saves my life, I spoil her rotten. I cant wait to get married in December next year - Sheeba will be guest of honour. I love my fiance with all my heart but Sheeba is truly my best friend. Without her, I wouldnt be here today. Shes a lifesaver.

– Sara Russell, Sheeba's owner.
Sheeba gives Sara cuddles when she is down. Credit: ITV

Sheeba saved Sara's life and it was going to happen again. This time, Sara had a fit in the bath. Again, she woke on the bathroom floor to see Sheeba. Sheeba had saved her from drowning.

Sara phoned the rescue shelter where shed found her to find out if Sheeba had had any formal training. But they had no record of her ever receiving any.

In total, Sheeba has saved Sara's life over 100 times. Often, she'll sense a fit before it even happens and will pin Sara to the bed or sofa to stop her falling or hitting her head, and pulls her away from sharp corners.

Dogs can pick up on behavioural cues, smell and detect differences in body temperature. The difficulty is how to teach dogs to alert their owners. Many experts believe that all dogs have these skills but need to be taught how to alert their owners. But it looks like Sheeba is a natural and doesn't need any training.

– Vet Joe Inglis