Debra Lowery was up early getting ready for work on a cold and snowy morning in Seldon, NY. The 21-year-old was filling in for a co-worker and was the only member of her family that was awake during the wee hours of the morning. After she stepped into the shower, she does not remember what happened next.
"The next thing I remember is waking up and my father is above me and a policeman and an EMT," Debra says. Her father explained that she had apparently had an epileptic seizure, had fallen in the shower and had hit her head on the spigot, causing the hot water to flow. She also discovered that her family's Pomeranian had saved her life.
It seems that the little Pom named Fluffy "Gangsta" McGee may have heard her fall in the tub or had even sensed her oncoming seizure when she sprang into action. The little dog rushed down the stairs – which usually frighten her – and began barking and throwing her body against the bathroom door. "She's not like this huge dog with a big powerful voice that was barking," Lowery says. "She's this tiny dog that just wouldn't stop."
After she was successful in waking the family, Debra's father and sisters opened the door and found Debra floating unconscious in the scalding hot water with her face under the faucet. "Her eyes were open," explains her sister Denise, "and they were dark purple." As her sisters tried to pull her from the tub, her skin began to peel off in their hands. Her father was able to lift her from the tub and yelled for someone to call 911. The EMTs later told the family that she probably would have died within a minute if she had stayed in the hot water any longer.
Debra remained in the hospital for 38 days and after she returned home, Gangsta was beside herself with joy. "It was like she just wanted to take care of me," says Debra. But the little Pom had been sending signals to the family for a while. Debra and Denise are both epileptic and would often notice that the little dog would act differently before an attack. "She'll lay her head on her paws and just look at you," says Denise. "Or she'll lie within a foot of you and won't leave."
Because of her emergency action, little Gangsta has been named second runner-up for the Valor Dog of the Year by the Humane Society of the United States. The Dogs of Valor Awards "honor and celebrate dogs that have shown extraordinary courage or resolve by heroically helping a person in need." As the second runner up, Gangsta was awarded a plaque, an original sterling silver pet tag by Bella Tocca Tags and a $50 Humane Domain merchandise certificate.