Sgt. Terry McGlade is a retired Marine who survived two tours in Iraq and one in Afghanistan, but now he owes his life to Major, his pit bull/Lab mix.
McGlade, a Zainesville, Ohio, resident, had a seizure in his backyard and collapsed unconscious. The heroic dog figured out how to retrieve his owner’s cell phone from a pocket and used his paw to get help.
Due to a severe brain injury, McGlade’s phone is set to auto-dial 911. Major stepped on the screen for several seconds. What’s especially surprising is that the dog had never been trained to use the phone.
“He was actually able to get my phone out of my pocket. I don’t have the phone anymore because there are teeth marks on the phone,” McGlade said.
McGlade suffers from seizures and severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after being injured by a roadside bomb in Afghanistan. Major was trained to sniff out the onset of a seizure and be a loving companion dog to assist McGlade with his PTSD.
After using his paw to call, the first 911 operator hung up, thinking it was a prank call when nobody said anything. Determined to get help, Major used his paw to call again. Operators hung up on the persistent pooch multiple times.
“I think it was 10 times,” McGlade said.
Finally, the operator grew suspicious when calls kept coming in from the same number, and they heard a muffled voice in the background “that sounded confused.” After finally getting through, Major ran from the backyard to the front of the house and sat by the curb waiting for rescue workers to come. When they arrived, the loyal mutt led them to the backyard and his unconscious owner. McGlade spent a night in the hospital after the seizure and is doing much better thanks to his heroic dog.
“I was getting ready to take him out for a walk,” said McGlade. “Next thing I know I’m waking up to the police department.”
Obviously, this is an intelligent dog, but how intelligent? “He is really, really smart,” said McGlade. “One of his tasks is at bedtime he goes and checks my doors to make sure they’re locked. Because of the memory loss I tend to forget to lock my doors.”
Before getting his service dog, McGlade said, “I was in a really, really dark spot. I was almost one of those suicide statistics just due to the PTSD being that severe. The organization I received him from, Stiggy’s Dogs, actually rescued him from a hoarder situation. We met each other and hit it off.”
Donna Fournier, the director of training at Stiggy’s Dogs, got a call from Detroit Bully Corps, a group that rescues and rehabilitates abused and unwanted American pit bull terriers, and rescued Major and 20 other dogs. Stiggy’s is a nonprofit organization that rescues and trains psychiatric service dogs for military veterans living with PTSD and traumatic brain injury.
This story proves once again the value of both pit bulls and rescue dogs in general. “Basically, now he is an extension of me,” said McGlade. “I don’t think I could operate in the everyday world without him right now.”
Dorri Olds is a contributing journalist for TheBlot Magazine.