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Rude Awakenings

Bree with her owner Michele Gilks at the Purina Animal Hall of Fame ceremony.

Little Bree went to live with the Gilks family, of New Brunswick in Canada, back in 2010, and the heroic Dachshund has proven her love and devotion on numerous occasions. For two years, Bree would awaken Michele Gilks periodically throughout the night. The spunky dog would either stick her nose into Michele's mouth or lick her face. Once Michele was awake, Bree was never interested in going outside or even playing, but seemed to be happy once Michele was awake. She would laugh off these rude awakenings thinking that they were harmless.

Throughout the day, Michele found that Bree was very tired so she decided to take her to see her Vet. The Veterinarian examined Bree and said that she was in excellent health, but remained baffled by her nightly routine.

Three days before Michele turned 50, Bree's nighttime behavior reached its peak. That night, Bree was relentless in waking up Michele…putting her snout in her mouth, licking her face and even standing on her chest. This night, Michele was very slow to awaken. As she awoke, she says that she felt like she was drowning and struggled to breathe. Bree's behavior also woke Michele's husband who immediately called for an ambulance. Once the paramedics arrived, they put oxygen on Michele and rushed her to the hospital. Michele's blood pressure was dangerously high and her heart-rate was very fast. She was finally diagnosed with sleep apnea – a potentially life-threatening condition that causes a person to stop breathing during sleep.

The ER doctor explained to Michele that she probably had been living with the condition for many years and that sleep apnea worsens as a person gets older. All of a sudden, it all made sense. Bree probably sensed that she was not breathing during the night and would awaken her, thus saving her from a potentially fatal episode of sleep apnea.

Now, Michele is receiving treatments for her sleep apnea and her little dog Bree no longer wakes her during the night. Both dog and owner are sleeping better, feel healthier, and are more energetic during the day.

Because of her life-saving acts, Bree was inducted into the Purina Animal Hall of Fame, which has been recognizing the life-saving heroics of pets and service animals for over 40 years. "I was unaware that I had severe sleep apnea, but Bree sensed something was wrong with me immediately," explained Michele. "Without her persistence to wake me from sleep apnea episodes, especially the severe episode last year, I wouldn't be here today. She is my personal hero, and we're so thrilled that Bree is being recognized for her heroic efforts by the Purina Animal Hall of Fame."

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