A Labrador who was training to become a guide dog passed his tests with flying colors last Monday when he alerted his trainers of oncoming danger. The outcome could have been deadly had he not reacted.
The dog, O'Neil, was walking with blindfolded trainer Danielle Alverado and Todd Jurek down the sidewalk from Guide Dogs For The Blind when suddenly, he stopped and immediately began tugging on his leash towards the left to get them to move. Moments later, an out-of-control car came careening down the path.
“I think the dog looked before I did. I don’t know what it would have done if I were not there, so you never know," Jurek said.
The car was being driven by a 93-year old woman, who says she just lost control. No injuries were reported. The entire incident was captured on a surveillance camera, and the video has now gone viral as the web is captivated by the close call. Jurek says O'Neil was in his eighth week of training at the time, and classes typically last ten weeks. But she saw something in him from the beginning, she says.
“Even from day one he was special," she said.
Guide dogs aren't limited to a certain breed, but Labradors are usually good choices for the job since they are sweet-natured and highly loyal. There are several groups across the country which train guide dogs for the blind and disabled; actress Betty White, who is a well-known animal lover, endorses the company O'Neil was trained with.
Guide Dogs For The Blind released a statement about the dog's heroic act.
"On June 10, 2013 Training Supervisor Todd Jurek, Apprentices Danielle Alvarado and Hanna Belyea, and summer intern/puppy raiser Emily Crisp, narrowly escaped harm when the driver of a car attempting to parallel park jumped the curb and continued to drive along the sidewalk where all four of them, plus O'Neil, a guide dog in training, were at work. Thanks to very quick reaction times and smart thinking, Todd was able to steer O'Neil and Danielle (who was under blindfold) down a side street; Hanna did the same with Emily (pulling them to the safety of an alcove - Hanna and Emily were observing Todd, Danielle and O'Neil at work further down the block near the point of the car's entry). Video was captured of the entire incident from the security cameras of one of the buildings on the block.
First and foremost, we are very thankful that this incident had a happy ending. No one was hurt - Todd, Danielle, Hanna, Emily and O'Neil are all safe; the driver and passenger of the car were not injured; no other pedestrians were affected. Certainly those involved were understandably shaken, but calm heads prevailed in this situation. GDB would like to commend and thank both Todd and Hanna for their heroic actions. It speaks to the professionalism of our instructors that they are always on the lookout and aware of the need for safety at all times when working with our dogs, students and each other. Certainly no amount of training could ever prepare them for what happened yesterday, but their reactions and swift decision-making led to the most positive outcome possible."
Image: Alan Dep/Marin Independent Journal