What do you do when your dog wakes you while you are sleeping only to discover that
you are in the midst of having a massive heart attack? That's what happened to Mark
Hanrahan, 54, of Mequon, WI while he was sleeping. His Golden Retriever, Murphy O'Dawg, seemed to sense that something
was wrong. Murphy usually slept on the floor next to Hanrahan's bed; however, that
night, he repeatedly hit his owner with his nose until he woke up. Once Hanrahan
was awake, he knew exactly what was happening. He was in the throes of a massive
heart attack. When Hanrahan's wife entered the room, she "saw that (he) was gray
Emergency Technicians transported Hanrahan to Columbia Hospital in Milwaukee where
he was told he needed to have bypass surgery. Murphy's owner continues to recover
from the surgery and has radically changed his lifestyle. He quit smoking, eats
low-fat foods and Murphy takes him exercising every morning. They walk between 2
and 4 miles with Murphy keeping a close eye on him.
No one really knows what tipped Murphy off that something was wrong, but Hanrahan's
cardiologist suggested that "some dogs are sensitive to electrolyte abnormalities,
also known as hyponatremia, which occurs during a heart attack".
Because of his heroic deed, Murphy was awarded the title of Cardiac Rehabilitation
Assistance Dog by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Murphy's deed also allowed
his owner to be the featured speaker at the Washington County Heart Walk, which
is the American Heart Association's premier fundraising event.