A service dog named Tatiana, a Labrador-Golden retriever mix, has been honored with hero’s awards for saving the life of her owner, Cristina Marie Saint-Blancard of Plantation, FL.
Service dogs are specially trained dogs who are taught skills to assist people with special needs. This includes people with limited mobility or hearing loss. Service dogs are sometimes confused with therapy dogs, but they are different. Therapy dogs are certified to visit people in hospitals, nursing centers and schools to cheer them up, but they do not live with people and provide daily assistance.
Cristina awoke one night in August 2011, struggling to catch her breath and then she stopped breathing. Tatiana ran and awoke the rest of the family, who found Cristina unconscious and called paramedics.
“That night when the paramedics arrived, they said that Tatiana had saved my life; they said timing was everything and it was a matter of seconds,” Cristina said.
Tatiana is a Labrador Retriever-Golden Retriever mix who was raised and trained by Canine Companions for Independence (CCI).
Cristina suffers from Meniere’s disease, and CCI matched Tatiana with Cristina after she suffered progressive hearing loss as a teen-ager.
“I can now sleep with peace of mind knowing Tatiana is right there by my side,” she said. “Somehow she has learned all on her own to alert me a few seconds prior to a Meniere’s disease episode so that I sit down or get myself in a safe place to avoid falling and getting hurt as I had done in the past. She also has been my faithful friend, nurse and companion.”
Tatiana accompanies Cristina everywhere she goes.
When Cristina graduated from Purdue University in December 2011, Tatiana walked beside her and wore her own cap. The beautiful black dog was presented with an honorary diploma that read “Master of Friendship and Guidance.”
Get information on joining the AKC Canine Partners community for all dogs, including mixed-breeds and rescues.