When Shawnee Cumo brought home a Shih Tzu puppy named Kipper, he was just to be a family pet, but the little dog turned out to be much more. Cumo’s son, Dominic, has ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), an incurable degenerative disease. Although he had never been trained as a service dog, Kipper took to the role almost immediately, on his own:
Kipper sticks close to the side of his best friend, Dominic. He will alert the family by barking in tandem with the alarms on Dominic’s respiratory machine, which signal when oxygen levels may be too low.
One night, Kipper turned out to be a true lifesaver. He was the only alarm when Dominic’s oxygen fell dangerously low and the machine’s alarm did not go off. Kipper was later awarded the Hero Dog of the Year by the San Bernardino Humane Society for his heroic actions.
Kipper now wears an official therapy-dog vest and accompanies Dominic almost everywhere he goes. It’s incredible story of a dog recognizing a person in need and taking it upon himself to protect the boy.