KC Pets

KC stroke patient rescued dog Sadie, who then saved her

Updated: 2012-11-02T21:15:51Z

By ROBERT A. CRONKLETON

The Kansas City Star

Paula Perone of Kansas City just wanted to be left alone back in June as she tried to lie down and sleep off what she thought was a migraine.

But Sadie, her 6-year-old Blue Healer Daschund mix, just wouldn’t let her be. She climbed on Perone to be near her head, whined and trembled, even tugged on her nightgown.

On Friday, Sadie was presented with the American Stroke Association’s Brain Saver Award for her persistence in making her 42-year-old owner realize she was experiencing a life-threatening stroke.

“If it wasn’t for her, I could have easily just gone to sleep and never woken up,” Perone said. “By the time they performed surgery on me, I had already hemorrhaged. I already had bleeding on the brain.”

Sadie was honored during the 15th Annual Stroke Symposium at the Overland Park Convention Center. The symposium was presented by the American Heart Association and the American Stroke Association and supported by Midwest Stroke Care.

Kathleen Henderson, stroke program coordinator at St. Joseph Medical Center, nominated Sadie for the award.

“I still get goose bumps when I tell this story,” Henderson said. “If it hadn’t been for Paula’s dog Sadie, she probably wouldn’t have come to the hospital. And if she hadn’t come to the hospital, she likely would’ve been very disabled or possibly dead.”

Henderson said health officials like to preach that “time is brain and lost time is lost brain.”

Prior to the presentation, Perone recalled that she had stayed home from work on June 14 because she wasn’t feeling good.

“I had what I thought was a headache,” Perone said. “I had been having bad headaches for a couple months.”

She even had undergone some MRIs to try to determine what was causing them.

“I was lying down and my dog kept trying to get to my head,” she said. “She was trembling.”

Perone moved to a couch and again, Sadie would try to get to her head.

“She’s a pretty calm dog, but she would jump on the couch pillows and get whatever it took to get to my head.”

Annoyed, Perone kept trying to push Sadie away. Eventually, Perone’s arm gave out and she couldn’t push Sadie away anymore.

“That’s when I realized something was horribly wrong,” Perone said.

Perone called her partner, Michelle Tucker, who rushed her to St. Joseph Medical Center in south Kansas City. Perone was transferred to St. Luke’s Hospital for surgery.

Sadie is a shelter dog that Perone found at Wayside Waifs in November 2007. She had been looking for a dog online when she saw a picture of Sadie.

“We just connected,” Perone said. “I know that sounds silly, but she seemed like the right dog for me.”

Jennie Rinas, communications relations manager for Wayside Waifs, said the connection between a pet and human is amazing.

“We like to say at Wayside Waifs that you don’t pick your pet, the pet picks you,” Rinas said. “Pets and people are in tune. There is a special bond between an animal and a human.”

On the day that Perone suffered the stroke, Rinas said, Sadie knew. Sadie could sense something wasn’t right.

Perone credits the medical staff as well as family and friends for her ability to recover so quickly. She said she’s not 100 percent, but hopes to be so soon.

As for Sadie, Perone said it is amazing how the dog she saved from a shelter ended up saving her.

“Never underestimate the loyalty of a best friend,” she said.

To reach Robert A. Cronkleton, call 816-234-4261 or send email to bcronkleton@kcstar.com.

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