Atlanta Hospital Dog Sniffs Out Dangerous Hidden Condition in Young Patient
"She put her paws on his stomach and kept nudging him. I knew right away she was telling us something was wrong."
Izzy, the resident library facility dog at Children's Healthcare of Atlanta at Egleston, spends five days a week amongst the books, waiting patiently for young patients to stop by. As far as hospital jobs go, Izzy, an eight-year-old golden retriever, lucked out. But life as one of the hospital's 17 full-time facility dogs is anything but ordinary. And Izzy is no ordinary pup.
Izzy has always had a special bond with patient Michael Rhone. The pair met five years ago, when Izzy was new to working in a children's hospital. Rhone, who has cystic fibrosis, has been visiting Children's since he was first diagnosed as a baby.
"Usually I can walk into the door and just start talking and she'll notice who it is and walk right up to me," Rhone, now 16, told Fox 5 Atlanta.
But during a routine visit about two years ago, Izzy was out of sorts and seemed agitated.
"Izzy typically just lies with my son and loves on him," Michael's mom, Michelle Wynn recalled in a statement. "But this time, she would not settle down. She put her paws on his stomach and kept nudging him. I knew right away she was telling us something was wrong."
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Shortly after, doctors determined Michael's gallbladder was failing and would need to be removed. During the operation, they were surprised to find the organ had shriveled to the point that it was completely useless. But the diagnosis didn't stop there. The gallbladder complication inevitably led to a diabetes diagnosis, something the family had already suspected.
"Izzy obviously can't talk, but she had her own way of telling us there was something wrong. We're so grateful for her," Wynn continued. She told Fox 5 that she thinks Michael was so used to being in pain, he didn't realize his gallbladder was failing.
Now, she jokes that she requires Izzy to do a full-body sniff every time she sees her son.
"She made me a believer; It's really amazing that an animal can do," Wynn concluded.
Those interested in keeping up with Izzy and the other Children's facility dogs, can follow them on Instagram. The Canines for Kids program is entirely, 100-percent donor-funded—learn more about it here.