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An extra special canine
June 22, 2010

  A Schnauzer From Schnauzer Paradise



MARTINSBURG - There is probably not a more deserving dog to be honored as the 2010 West Virginia Pet of the Year than Duffy Ohl, a local miniature schnauzer who saved his owner's life earlier this year.

On behalf of the West Virginia Veterinary Medical Association, Dr. Darin Gilpin presented Duffy and his owner Joan Ohl with the award at a ceremony held at the WVVMA's annual meeting at The Greenbrier resort in White Sulpher Springs.

"At the ceremony, Duffy had an entourage of children following us who just wanted to pet and play with him," Joan Ohl said, laughing. "He was quite popular, and you could tell he knew it."

Gilpin, a local veterinarian who is also the president of the WVVMA, nominated Duffy for the honor after hearing of the dog's act of heroism that occurred during a rainy day in January when Joan's husband, Dr. Ronald Ohl, experienced a stroke.

"Ron and Duffy spend every day together," Joan Ohl said. "The two are devoted to each other, and that devotion was never more evident than on that day."

When Ron Ohl headed to take a shower that morning, he instead collapsed on the bathroom floor, suffering a stroke. Meanwhile his wife was busy working from her study, located on another floor in the Ohl's home.

"Duffy came bounding into my study and interrupted my conference call by jumping up on my leg and barking," she said. "He then ran toward the door and then came back and repeated the pattern, so I put my call on hold and followed Duffy's lead down the hall as he was barking."

Joan Ohl said she knew immediately that when she found Ron, still conscious on the floor, that he was in the middle of having a stroke, and she immediately dialed 911.

Thanks to Duffy's swift warning, help was quickly on its way and Ron was able to be taken to City Hospital just in time to receive quick medical care that is critical for stroke patients.

"The TPA shot, which can only be administered to someone in a certain window of time, allowed for two very important changes in Ron. The first was that he got some movement in his right leg and the second was his ability to swallow returned to almost 100 percent normal," Joan Ohl said. "Without Duffy, I would have never found Ron in the time that he needed to get the shot."

Ron Ohl was transferred to Winchester Rehabilitation Center four days after his stroke and remained there for nearly five weeks before being transferred to Lynn Care Center in Front Royal, Va.

There, he continued his physical, occupational and speech therapies, and has since learned to walk longer distances using a quad cane as well as to stand from a sitting position with no assistance.

In late May, he was able to come home from the center, and shortly after, he celebrated his 74th birthday.

"It's really wonderful to be home," he said at his home last week, while Duffy sat quietly in his lap.



The Ohls wish to thank Gilpin and the WVVMA for the honor.


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