A guide dog named O’Neil on the final stages of training saved his two instructors last week, altering them to a runaway car. They escaped the path of the car — barreling backwards down a sidewalk — without a second to spare.
Todd Jurek, a training supervisor for Guide Dogs for the Blind, credits the dog with responding to the commotion, which allowed Jurek to push the pair off to the side.
It started when Jurek was spotting his apprentice instructor, a blindfolded Danielle Alvarado, who was walking down a sidewalk with the 18-month-old yellow Lab. Jurek was assessing the team’s skill.
Suddenly, O’Neil jerked his head around and looked behind him. That made Jurek look back.
“He kinda alerted me that something bad was happening behind us,” Jurek said to KTVU.
What he saw was hard to process: a car flying toward them on the sidewalk, going backward, smashing things as it went — a bench, the side of a building, a stoplight.
“[O’Neil] actually turned around and was in this kind of mode like, ‘We’ve got to do something,” Jurek said. “He was going to do something, but then I interacted.”
Jurek shouted “Go, go, go!” and grabbed Alvarado, according to the San Jose Mercury News. The dog performed perfectly, turning back around and hustling with his instructor around the corner.
Jurek called it a one-in-a-million training moment.
“You can’t train a dog for such a dramatic incident,” he said.
As for O’Neil, he’s doing fine. He underwent additional traffic training to make sure he was not shaken up by the event, and he’ll be officially on duty with a client in a few weeks.
Surveillance cameras from stores caught the incident. Watch how O’Neil jerks his head around, then stays calm and hustles with the group out of harm’s way.
As for the driver, she’s a 93-year-old woman who had a “parallel parking mishap.” The DMV will be testing her fitness for driving.