Central Illinois man credits service dog for saving his life during a health emergency

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CHILLICOTHE, Ill. (WMBD) — Where Robbie Stouffer goes, his service dog Carolyn follows.

“Goes to work with me, she goes to doctor’s appointments with me, shopping,” said Stouffer.

The central Illinois man has been working with Carolyn for about a year.

“We started to build a bond,” said Stouffer.

He said the pair have been together since she was two months old.

“Carolyn is a sweet, very sweet dog. Very smart,” said Stouffer.

He’s training her through Freedom Paws Service Dogs Foundation.

“Almost right away, I mean within a couple of training sessions, we realized this is a match,” said Freedom Paws Service Dogs CEO Corey James.

The organization helps veterans living with post-traumatic stress disorder.

“The fact that we’re able to do this at no cost to the veteran is amazing,” said James.

Stouffer said Carolyn can even sense how he’s feeling.

“She was getting kind of goofy, wouldn’t leave me alone, kept wanting to sit on me,” said Stouffer.

Two weeks ago, Carolyn noticed when Stouffer’s chest started to hurt.

“I had a heart attack and I didn’t know it was happening,” said Stouffer.

He said Carolyn was alerting him something was off.

“I picked up my phone and then she sat down. And I thought this is kind of weird, weird behavior,” said Stouffer.

He called 911 and help was on the way.

“I unlocked the door as she [dispatcher] requested, and then I hit the floor,” said Stouffer.

At the hospital, doctors inserted a stent. Hours later, Carolyn was back by his side. Stouffer said through it all, he’s grateful Carolyn was there.

“It’s better than your best friend. It’s… I can’t really really explain the security and the feeling that someone’s there,” said Stouffer.

Freedom Paws Service Dogs is a non-profit organization and James said its volunteers keep it running. People can donate to the mission here.

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