Dog Keeps Owner
Alive Through Week-Long Ordeal
by Charlotte LoBuono
A faithful and highly resourceful dog named
Libby recently saved the life of her human companion after
he became trapped in his bathtub.
Barry Ashworth, who has multiple sclerosis
and is confined to a wheelchair, slipped and fell while taking
a shower in his Colorado home.
Ashworth was unable to lift himself up because
he fell with his head at the opposite end of the tub from
where safety handles had been installed for this type of accident.
Libby, a Labrador retriever mix who lives
with Ashworth as a service dog, realized there was a problem
and quickly brought him his phone - but it was not charged.
Meanwhile, Ashworth was slipping in and out of consciousness.
Libby licked Ashworth's face to keep his attention,
and tapped her paws on the floor to try to keep him awake.
Ashworth later said that one of Libby's goals was to hear
As the hours passed, and then the days, Ashworth
began to panic. He thought he was going to die. But Libby
was constantly at his side, keeping up his morale, he said.
"The whole time I was laying in the
tub, she played little games with me to keep my spirits up,"
Libby's and Ashworth's ordeal lasted for an
Finally, seven days after Ashworth had become
trapped, Julie Johnson, a bus driver who had an appointment
to take him to his weekly doctorate class, arrived to find
the front door open and the screen door locked.
After neighbors told her there had been no
sign of Ashworth recently, she called 911, then managed to
get herself into the house by reaching through the doggie
flap in the back door and unlocking the bolt.
She found Ashworth still lying in the tub,
barely coherent and extremely weak from lack of food and water.
Ashworth was taken to hospital, where he recovered
from his ordeal. His loyal and life-saving canine companion
was allowed to remain with him in his hospital room during
his five-week stay.
© 2003 Animal News Center, Inc.