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


CHILLICOTHE, Ill. – Where Robbie Stouffer goes, his service dog Carolyn follows.

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

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

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

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

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

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,” James said.

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,” Stouffer said.

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,” Stouffer said.

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,” Stouffer said.

He called 911 and help was on the way.

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

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. I can’t really really explain the security and the feeling that someone’s there,” Stouffer said.

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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