Eighteen-year-old Aysha Perry was home with her Akita named Sheba at her flat in Sutton-in-Ashfield, Nottinghamshire, England, when she choked on a piece of chicken. No one else was home. Sheba was in the other room, asleep. Perry fell to the floor, struggling to breathe and trying to get to her phone.
“I was at home on my own, and genuinely thought I was going to die,” she told the Daily Mail.
Sheba must have thought so, too. Though Sheba had lived with Perry only two weeks, she woke up and knew exactly what to do. The dog heard her choking, bolted into the room, and promptly took action with all the skill and speed of an EMT who’d just completed a refresher course on helping choking victims.
“I was on the floor trying to get to my phone when she came running in,” Perry said. “She whacked me on the back with one of her huge front paws and the piece of chicken flew out.”
That’s right: A dog performed a life-saving maneuver on her choking owner, and it worked.
And Sheba might know more than many humans. Public health organizations at one time discouraged the back-slap in favor of the abdominal thrust of the Heimlich maneuver, but many now advocate trying a back-slap first.
“It’s a good job she has such big paws, otherwise I don’t think it would have dislodged the chicken,” said Perry.
Perry is fine, and she gives all the credit to her dog. “She could obviously sense I was in distress. After she helped get the chicken out of my throat, she began licking my face to make sure I was okay.”
Akitas are known to be smart, loyal companions. In 1931, Japan declared the dog a “national treasure.” Perry, who works as a tattoo artist, believes the dog knew that she was choking and knew what she had to do to save her.
“There’s no doubt that she knew what she had done,” Perry said. “She knew she had saved my life. I could tell by the way she looked and wouldn’t let me go … I think she deserves some recognition because it was a very heroic act. I don’t know anyone else whose dog would do something like that.
“I just feel so lucky to have her. This has all happened in such a short space of time. I’ve only had her a couple of weeks and already she has saved my life.”
Via the Daily Mail