We all know that dogs are people’s best friends. They not only offer us companionship, but they make us smile and laugh. They also protect us and become guides when we’ve lost our way. They can also see dangers that we sometimes can’t – as one woman from the UK learned.
Meet Keola, a 3-year-old American Akita living in Doncaster, South Yorkshire. In 2014, she became part of Alhanna Butler and her fiancé, Ricky Burdis’s family. The couple was very happy to include her in their growing family, and had planned on spoiling her and taking lots of photos too. But they didn’t realize that they had a guardian angel on their hands.
A year later, Keola had grown up, and Alhanna and Ricky were so happy with her. They even referred to her as “their bear.” The Akita was bigger and heavier than they were, but her temperament was sweet and gentle. Alhanna also loved cuddling with Keola while watching TV on the couch. Later that year, the couple learned some very huge news.
In April of 2015, Alhanna learned that she was going to have a baby, which delighted the couple’s family and friends. Keola was great with kids and also seemed excited by the new addition that would arrive in a few months. Alhanna knew Keola would make a good big sis. But then she realized that something was wrong.
Alhanna started getting terrible lower back pain a few months into her pregnancy. So, she saw a doctor, who told her that the pain was just a side effect of her being pregnant. Since her growing abdomen was causing some strain on her spine and back muscles, Alhanna had no reason to doubt the doctor’s prognosis. So, she went home feeling relieved, but someone in her home wasn’t quite convinced.
Alhanna started to nice that Keola would act odd when she was around, but she didn’t know why. She told Mercury Press that “When the doctors sent me home and said there was nothing seriously wrong, she just sat staring at me so intently that it really scared me.” She tried ignoring it, but Keola continued to act even stranger as the pregnancy progressed.
Keola had always been very laid back, but now her pushiness had increased. Alhanna started worrying that her pregnancy might be the cause of this change in her dog’s behavior. Maybe Keola was jealous that she was no longer the couple’s main focus. She knew she’d have to give the dog up if she was jealous of the baby. But Alhanna didn’t like the thought of doing that.
Then, Ricky noticed that Keola would get very upset in the morning when Alhanna went to work. She wouldn’t stop barking, which she’d never done before. It seemed like she was terrified that something would happen to Alhanna if she wasn’t there to protect her. The couple couldn’t figure out what was causing this odd behavior until they went on Facebook and posted a photo.
Keola’s odd behavior escalated. She’d nudge Alhanna, stared at her for lengthy periods and cried. “I posted a picture of her doing this on Facebook and made the joke about the film Hachi where the dog also does this and suddenly my friends all started saying I should take it seriously.” Then, the couple came to the conclusion that perhaps Keola was trying to warn them about something.
Alhanna took Keola’s odd behavior as a warning, and went back to the hospital to get a check-up. After she was examined, Alhanna was rushed into the ICU. The couple soon learned that Alhanna had been moments away from death, and it shocked them both. Finally, after months of pains, Alhanna discovered the reason behind her backaches.
It turns out that Alhanna had contracted a double kidney infection, which was the cause of the stabbing pains in her lower back. Also, the infection was so rare that it was resistant to antibiotics, but until now, only one other person in the U.K., had been affected by it. If Alhanna had not gone to the hospital in time, it’s possible that she and her unborn child would have died. Alhanna knew right away who saved her.
“No one really understood how ill I was – but Keola did,” said Alhanna. Fortunately, Alhanna’s infection was treated, and she was restored to full health eventually. Her pregnancy also continued on its course, and she had a lovely baby who, whom they named Lincoln. Now, the family began a new chapter.
After Lincoln was born, Keola happily became a babysitter and big sister, so naturally, the two became BFFs too. They enjoy taking naps together, and Keola is able to make Lincoln laugh in ways the couple can’t. The Akita’s loyalty to her human family is amazing, and people have noticed too.
After sharing her story with the Daily Mirror, Alhanna was informed that Keola was nominated for the RSPCA’s “Animal Hero Award.” As a finalist, Keola and her human family were asked to celebrate at a red carpet event. But for Keola, spending time with Alhanna, Ricky, and her new BFF, Lincoln, was the only reward she needed. But, Keola continues to ensure her family stays healthy.
Alhanna posted a photo on Facebook of Keola comforting Lincoln, who was sick, earlier this year. On the caption, she wrote, “Keola woke me up this morning by running into my room and then I heard funny noises on the baby monitor so I went into Lincoln’s room and he was being sick bless him, she hadn’t left his side since.” Obviously, Keola is the best nurse ever, but how does she accomplish this?
Keola’s sense of smell is her secret weapon. Since dogs have 4000% more scent receptors than we do, they can distinguish even the smallest changes in scents. In fact, some dogs can detect sickness by smelling minor changes in the chemical composition in the human body. Even the slight change in hormones, or the release of dangerous organic elements can alert a dog to a problem, which is what probably happened in the case of Keola and Alhanna.