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Plaque honour for the dog that senses blackouts

Flora saves her owner from injuries with ‘life-saving sense of smell’

05 October, 2018 — By Helen Chapman

Flora by the plaque dedicated to her outside her Holloway home

A LIFE-SAVING dog has been honoured with a commemorative plaque at her owner’s home in Holloway.

Flora, a six-year-old Akita, was recognised for her ability to sense when her owner, Robert Stuhldreer, is about to suffer a blackout.

The plaque was unveiled last Monday outside the home of Mr Stuhldreer in Dunfold Way. It reads: “Flora, Born 2011, Home to the show dog with a life-saving sense of smell.”

Mr Stuhldreer, 57, said: “She’s made a huge difference to my life. I’ve had all sorts of injuries. I’ve broken my nose and my shoulder, but since Flora, I’ve had no broken bones and no unplanned visits to hospital.”

The plaque was unveiled by the pet-sitting business TrustedHousesitters.

Flora with owner Robert Stuhldreer

Mr Stuhldreer said: “When they contacted me I thought, is this a wind-up? Is this someone pulling my leg?

“Then I got an email that seemed quite legitimate, saying they want to do something for animals on similar lines as they do for people.

“It’s amazing, really, that nobody has recognised animals in this way before.”

Mr Stuhldreer has suffered from seizures and cardiac syncope, during which his heart stops and he has blackouts, since being in a car crash 20 years ago. He first noticed Flora’s life-saving abilities when she was four months old. She stood in front of Mr Stuhldreer, refused to move, and pulled his hand to the ground to encourage him to lie down.

Mr Stuhldreer added: “At first I just thought she was acting in a strange way – as a puppy that’s not so unusual. But I then gathered she was picking up on something that was going to happen. I don’t get any warnings but Flora instinctively picks up on it.”

In July, she was awarded an honour by the RSPCA. Mr Stuhldreer lives with his collies Roxy and Rosy, Hungarian pumi Grace, Japanese Akita Inu Kin, and Flora.

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