LIVERPOOL – A guide dog in training is being hailed a hero after launching into action to save the life of the woman taking care of her. 61-year-old Lesley Hailwood was home alone New Year’s Eve. “It had got to around 11.30 pm in the evening and I thought I would stay up until midnight to see the New Year in,” she said. But Lesley almost didn’t make it.
As midnight approached, Lesley popped a soft centered Christmas chocolate in her mouth, which then became lodged in her windpipe. “I tried to move it but it wouldn’t budge,” she said. “By this time I’m thinking ‘I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe.'” She began to panic.
Luckily, she had been boarding a guide dog in training: a 17 month-old German Shepherd/Retriever named Nell who was sleeping on the floor at the time. As Lesley continued choking, Nell woke up and instinctively knew what to do.
“Whatever noise I was making woke Nell up and she jumped up, ran past, jumped on the settee in front of me, which she doesn’t do – she doesn’t jump on furniture, faced me, looked at me and went up on her hind legs and jumped with her front legs on my chest and dislodged the blockage.”
Lesley was struck by Nell’s composure: “It took me awhile to dawn on me. It’s quite amazing. She wasn’t panicked, she knew exactly what to do. I don’t know what I’d have done if she wasn’t there. She saved my life.”
Lesley has been boarding trainee guide dogs for about two years after the passing of her own dog. She houses dogs for the Guide Dogs for the Blind Association at Bradbury Fields in Knotty Ash. She has only been housing Nell since November.
Does Nell have permanent home with Lesley in the future?
Lesley said, “I’d love her to stay and live with me but I know she’s got a job to do.”
Photo: Liverpool Echo