Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Senior dog saves neighbor

A Pine County hunting dog led her owner to a 94-year-old neighbor who was lying unconscious on his driveway.

By ABBY SIMONS, Star Tribune

Last update: January 12, 2010 - 10:06 PM

Brett Grinde and his German shorthair, Effie, hadn't made it far on their typical late-afternoon walk on Monday when the old hunting dog suddenly began pulling to the right.

Grinde, a Pine County sheriff's investigator, let Effie lead the way as she strained with her nose to the ground along the road along Pokegama Lake. He let her off the leash and she tore away and turned into a driveway 40 yards away, stopping at the body of Grinde's 94-year-old neighbor, William Lepsch. He was unconscious and frozen to the ground.

"I ran after her and when I turned into the driveway I couldn't believe it," Grinde later wrote in an e-mail to Lepsch's family.

"He had some serious exposure and blood underneath him. I have seen plenty of deceased people and thought he was dead."

So did Lepsch's wife, Marjorie, who said she peeked outside several minutes after her husband of 67 years disappeared at about 2 p.m. to retrieve the mail without telling her. She saw him lying in the driveway bleeding "from head to toe." She couldn't go outside and struggled to dial 911, but repeatedly misdialed out of panic. Marjorie, 88, who uses a wheelchair and walker, was unable to help him. Several more minutes passed until she was able to dial a niece who promised to get help and head over. In the meantime, Effie approached.

"Nobody's around and I'm out there hollering 'Somebody please help me!' but there was no one," she said. "In the meantime this dog ran up and began licking his face."

Grinde kept Lepsch's airway open and called 911 while the dog nuzzled his arms and shoulders as he worked on Lepsch. The dog then ran to the house where medics and deputies heard Marjorie Lepsch yelling from inside.

William Lepsch survived, thanks to Effie's instincts and the training and quick thinking of her master. Lepsch is in serious condition at North Memorial Medical Center with broken ribs and other ailments, said Chief Deputy Steve Ovick of the Pine County Sheriff's Office, who said Grinde declined to speak to reporters in favor of letting his dog take the credit. Ovick was quick to praise both.

"Effie's a happy-go-lucky hunting dog," Ovick said of the 16-year-old dog named after the tiny Minnesota town where Grinde has a hunting cabin. "She's out and about, chasing and running, and just to be remarkably calm like that. At the time, how did that dog know, and whose will was it that Brett decided to take the dog out at that time?"

Marjorie Lepsch, still shaken by the incident, chastised the "best husband in the world" who she said continues to insist on fetching the mail. She was near tears as she remembered the sight of the brown dog who seemed came out of nowhere.

"I've seen this man walk his dog every day on our road," she said. "I am so grateful to them, I am. Because I couldn't get out there. I was stuck."

Abby Simons • 612-673-4921

Dog leads master -- a Pine County investigator -- straight to unconscious man
Updated: 1/13/2010 12:16:53 AM

Pine City, Minn. -- A Pine City dog may not have the energy of a puppy anymore, but she mustered up enough of her skills to lead her master straight to an unconscious man. Police believe the act saved the man's life.

On Monday evening, Brett Grinde took his 15-year-old dog, Effie, out for their usual walk. But within a couple minutes, Effie started pulling on the leash -- she was insisting on a different route.

"She basically started pulling to the right and 99 percent we go left," Grinde said from his Pine City home on Tuesday.

Effie then took off running -- causing Grinde to follow behind. Eventually, the 15-year-old German shorthair dog came to an abrupt stop in the driveway of a neighbor.

"So I'm running, and I cut the corner of the driveway and I look, and she's standing by an older gentleman that's laying face down," Grinde said.

Effie started licking the man's face and then turned to her master -- who just happens to be a long-time investigator with the Pine County Sheriff's Department.

"Twenty-eight years as a police officer, you know how to do the first response, the CPR, the abcs," Grinde said.

Grinde was able to clear the 94-year-old man's airway. Within seconds, that man started to groan and regain consciousness. All the while, Effie the dog just watched.

"She laid down on his other side and then came and knudged me on the elbows and just kind of stood over him," Grinde said.

On Tuesday night, the man remained in serious condition at North Memorial Medical Center. Police believe he went out for the mail or to take out the garbage, slipped on the ice and may have been outside for hours. His family asked we not release his name.

But relatives did call Brett to thank him for what he did. Brett's response? Thank my dog.

"I never thought in a million years something like this would happen, but it was meant to be. It was in God's hands and somebody turned her that way," he said.

Effie, by the way, also got a few bonus treats on Monday. Brett said she's also likely due for a porkchop or plate of spaghetti -- which she loves.

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