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Service Dog of the Year

Cole with Service Dog of the Year Bingo.

Mandi Hein of Manitoba, Canada was sick with worry. With her husband deployed in Afghanistan, she was alone to care for her family, which included little 8-year-old Cole. Cole suffers from a life-threatening condition that causes him to retch (vomit) and stop breathing. Within moments, the little boy could stop breathing with no warning.

Mandi and her husband had taken little Cole to many specialists, but none were able to diagnosis his problem. His condition was so severe, that he had to be watched 24 hours a day. They used monitors and nursing aids. Their little boy also spent a lot of time in the hospital for scans and surgeries that were used to help assist with his diagnosis. The pressure began to take its toll on the entire family. Cole was never allowed to be left alone or to be able to lead a normal life.

After many years of searching for a cure, Mandi took charge of the situation and decided to try to find the best way to manage Cole's condition at home. She believed that a hearing dog might be able to alert them in time when Cole began to retch. She contacted National Service Dogs and was partnered with little Bingo.

Bingo, a ten-year-old Jack Russell Terrier, is intelligent and has a very keen set of ears. This "extraordinarily sharp hearing dog" was trained to bark whenever she heard Cole retch. Most hearing dogs tap their feet at their deaf owners, but Bingo's vocal warnings alert Mandi in time to get help or to administer artificial respiration. According to Mandi, during the first six months that Bingo was with Cole, she helped save his life three times.

"Bingo's acute sense of hearing, dependability and loyalty completely opened up a world of independence for Cole and his family," explains the spokesperson for the Purina Hall of Fame. "She gave them a sense of peace (and a little extra sleep!) knowing that Bingo was always watching over Cole, ready to react should his condition put him in any danger."

Because of her devotion to Cole, as well as her extraordinary medical saving acts, Bingo was recognized by the Purina Company and has been named Service Dog of the Year. She was also inducted into the Purina Animal Hall of Fame.

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