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Dog Dials 911 When Owner Has Seizure

"Man's best friend" may not cut it for a Scottsdale dog named Buddy — a trained German shepherd who saved his owner's life by dialing 911 when he began having a seizure, police said Sunday

On the recorded 911 call Wednesday, Buddy is heard whimpering and barking after the somewhat confused dispatcher answers the phone and repeatedly asks if the caller needs help.

"Hello, this is 911. Hello ... Can you hear me? Is there somebody there you can give the phone to," says the dispatcher, Chris Scott.

Buddy barks loudly when police arrive about three minutes after the call is placed. An officer asks Buddy's owner, Joe Stalnaker, if he's OK. Stalnaker coughs, and the call ends.

Scottsdale police Sgt. Mark Clark said Stalnaker spent two days in the hospital following the seizure and has recovered.

"It's pretty incredible," Clark said. "Even the veteran dispatchers — they haven't heard of anything like this."

Clark said police are dispatched whenever 911 is called, but that Stalnaker's address was flagged in Scottsdale's system with the fact that an assistance dog dials 911 when the owner cannot.

He said Buddy made two other 911 calls when Stalnaker was having seizures, the first last August.

He said Stalnaker's seizures are the result of a head injury he sustained about 10 years ago during a training exercise in the U.S. military.

Stalnaker was not listed in the phone book, and a request with police to interview him was not immediately answered.

Clark said Stalnaker adopted Buddy when he was 8 weeks old and trained him to get the phone if he began to have seizure symptoms. Buddy, now 18 months old, also is trained to press programmed buttons until a 911 operator is on the line, Clark said.

He said Stalnaker got Buddy through Michigan-based Paws with a Cause, which trains assistance dogs nationwide for people with disabilities.