Gertie the Medical Alert Dog

 Just over two years ago, a big, hairy bundle of Airedale love came to live with us. Gertie (nee Jenna), has been with three previous families (not through ATRA). We can’t imagine anyone giving her up, but we’re thrilled she came to our house. She “helps out” with everything we do, and shares her enthusiasm with frequent nose pokes. Her exuberant attitude is infectious.


Gertie was seven when she moved in. At first she would easily tire walking around one block, trying to keep up with our Scottie. Well, she’s getting older, right? Wrong! After two years of consistent exercise, glucosamine/chondroitin, and baby aspirin, she’s impatiently waiting for us to get our behinds in gear. We don’t mosey around the block; we hoof it around the whole neighborhood. If she were any younger, we’d have to start running marathons to wear her out.


But here’s the best thing about this “old dog”, Gertie: she’s a medical alert dog, and no one knew it! I have a rare health problem that causes me to pass out from low blood pressure. Previously, I had to assess my health before every walk to decide how far the Scot and I were going. A few weeks after Gertie arrived, she started this annoying behavior of sticking to my left knee like Velcro when we walked. It was very frustrating tripping over an Airedale, especially when I wasn’t feeling well and just wanted to get home. Shortly after getting home, I passed out. A couple weeks later, there was more Velcro Dog, tripping, and passing out later in the comfort of my home. About the third time, I caught on. Like a seizure alert dog, Gertie knows my nervous system is on the fritz long before I do. Now, we take nice long walks every day, and if Velcro Dog appears, I know I have half an hour to get home. This is a priceless gift to me, and Gertie is just thrilled to have a job (don’t worry; my mom is the backup on the rare occasion that I can’t walk them). Not every senior dog is a superhero, but you never know…