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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 him laugh.

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," Ashworth said.

Libby's and Ashworth's ordeal lasted for an entire week.

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.

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