LOS ANGELES (AP) — Three years ago, Bear was a 100-pound Shiloh German shepherd nobody wanted at a Texas shelter.
Debbie Zeisler came to his rescue. She has lost count of the times since then that he has come to hers.
On Monday, Bear was honored with the 30th National Hero Dog award by the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles.
Last May, Zeisler had a seizure, fell down some steps, hit her head and lost consciousness in her front yard. Bear scratched on every front door in their Millsap neighborhood but nobody answered. A Parker County animal control officer saw the frantic dog and went to help. Bear led the officer to Zeisler.
As a by-then conscious Zeisler was being loaded into an ambulance, Bear did not hesitate to jump in with her and accompany her to the hospital.
The dog recognizes the signs of imminent seizures and will lean on Zeisler's legs so she can sit down before they happen, explained the society's Ana Bustilloz.
Bear never had any training, but three days after Zeisler took him home he started alerting her to possible problems. "He figured it out on his own," Bustilloz said.
The sometimes daily seizures started after a horse riding accident 18 years ago.
Zeisler said she initially went to the Weatherford Animal Shelter to get a German shepherd for her mother. When she asked about shepherds, she was told they only had one, but he was in the back because nobody wanted him.
They brought out the dog and it was love at first sight, she said.
Zeisler has fallen a couple of times when she didn't heed Bear's warning. The dog will fetch her medicine or stay with her, whichever she seems to need, she said.
As National Hero Dog, Bear gets free dog food for a year, the trip to California for him and Zeisler, a stay at an oceanfront hotel in Huntington Beach and a plaque.
The ceremony honoring Bear was held at the Nokia Plaza in downtown Los Angeles.
Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles, http://www.spcala.com