Ellie came into Charity care at the age of five months because her owners couldn't cope with her messing in the house overnight.
Jo and Les who adopted Ellie, had been looking for an older, confident Shepherd as a companion for Jones, their GSD/Corgi cross. They had some doubts about adopting Ellie, especially how it would affect Jones, also a rescue, but from the dogs' point of view, it was love at first sight! Also, adopting Ellie proved to be a life-saver in more ways than one.
Both of Ellie's owners are Type 1 Diabetics, so they face the possibility of diabetic hypoglycaemia. This is a lower than normal level of glucose in the blood caused by too much insulin, too little food, or ectra activity. Symptoms vary from confusion, nervousness, sweating, shakiness, headaches etc. If left untreated, severe hypoglycaemia can cause loss of consciousness, convulsions, even permanent brain damage or death in very rare instances.
Daytime isn't a problem for Jo and Les as they recognise the symptoms and treat accordingly, but things are a different matter at night. When Ellie had only been in her new home for around a month, she woke Les in the middle of the night. They thought it was a coincidence that he was hypoglycaemic (also known as a "hypo") and even after a couple more times they didn't realise she was sensing this and waking him to warn him. That was until Ellie woke Jo at 3:00 am to warn her of her own hypo! Jo's diabetic consultant was impressed when he was told what had happened - "Awesome" was the comment! But that doesn't seem to be enough to describe what happened when Les took the dogs out one evening.
Nothing unusual about that until there was a knock at the door by a lady asking if the dog trying to get into their back gate was theirs. A frantic Jones came dashing from the gate, heading off up the road then back again. It wasn't just Jones' behaviour that was worrying, but the fact that he was alone and that there was a real possibility that something serious had happened to Les - most likely suffering a diabetic "hypo". They managed to locate Les and get an ambulance crew to him; he was semi-conscious when he was found with Ellie at his side, and after being brought round by the paramedics he was rushed to A & E because of hypothermia and still in need of urgent treatment.
Les remembers the dogs licking, pawing and nudging him as he crawled along the lane trying to get home. He thinks it must have taken Ellie and Jones about half an hour to get him to where he was found and that it must have been there that the dogs decided to separate, Ellie staying with Les and Jones going home.
It must have taken a lt of courage for Jones to go home on his own - even though he has come a long way since being adopted, he's still wary of people and not confident on his own at any time. He even managed to get past one particular house that he has problems with and will avoid if he can.
Ellie sitting by Les' side is a feat in many ways and at almost twelve months old, she wasn't called Hells Bells for nothing on occasions!
An opportunist at times, it wouldn't have been a surprise if she had chosen from the start to grab extra play time or gone to explore the estate, but she wasn't going to leave Les until she knew Jo was there.
She did reward herself though, nicking all the gravy bones out of their bum bag which they take on walks, but who could blame her?
Another 15 minutes delay to find Les could have been fatal, with both the hypo and hypothermia causing his condition to deteriorate as the minutes ticked by.
Ellie and Jones' story was taken up by the local and national newspapers, and won the Real People magazine "Pet of the Year Award" in 2010. They were also nominated for a PDSA bravery award and after a very long wait, the Charity was absolutely delighted to find out that they were to be awarded the PDSA Gold Medal.
The PDSA Gold Medal is the UK's highest animal award for bravery and devotion (excluding military).
Recognised as the animals' George Cross, the highest honour for "civilian" bravery, the PDSA Gold Medal is awarded to animals that are instrumental in saving human or animal life when its own life is in jeopardy, or through outstanding devotion to duty.
It was a very special day for Les and Jo when Ellie and Jones were awarded the PDSA Gold Medal on 31st October 2012.
It was a special day for us too, because Jo and Les wanted GSD 2000 to be involved with the award ceremony. Our Chairman, Steve Hamblyn, accompanied by Ann Masling, one of the founder members of the Charity, were very proud to attend on our behalf.
Jo and Les are sure that not only are Jones and Ellie meant to be together, but that both dogs are meant to be with them.