Ace of Dogs

September 1, 2011  

A pit bull companion becomes an invaluable service dog

By Leah McGregor

I would like to tell you a bit about Ace, my pit bull service dog. I got Ace two years ago for a companion and a family pet; he was 18 months old at the time.

In October, several months after we had him, I had a horseback riding accident and suffered a significant head injury. It appeared to trigger some neurological symptoms, which caused me to have balance issues, frequent falls and trouble remembering what I had done or what I was going to do. I also have PTSD.

I noticed several months after my accident that when I was walking in the pasture on uneven ground, Ace would steady me. He started to brace against my leg.

I realized he’d make a good service dog, so we started working together to achieve that goal.

He took his Canine Good Citizen test 90 days after I had him and then passed his Public Access Test (PAT) seven months later. He scored a perfect 100 percent.

Because of my injury, my neurologist said I’d need a cane.

“No,” I said. “I just want my dog.” He’s far better at steadying me than a cumbersome cane would be.

Ace has become invaluable to me in many ways. Not only does he help me walk, but he also alerts me when my blood pressure is too high or low. He’s a saving grace. He has helped me so many times. He wakes me up at night by flipping my hand before I even realize I’m getting a headache because of my elevated blood pressure.

If I’m awake and he senses blood pressure trouble, he will jump up next to me and push his head on the left side of my chest – he just holds it there.

The first time he did this I thought he was just being affectionate, but then I finally figured it out. He does not do either of these things at any other times. Now I’m certain he knows, and I’m working on training him to bring me my meds to help with it.

As a result, Ace has grown from a companion to the kind of friend that I take everywhere with me. He goes out to eat with me and goes to all of my doctors’ appointments.

He’s even a frequently flyer. He’s flown eight times now, and we’re planning on taking a train ride in August. (photo below with Leah’s husband)

Speaking of traveling, I have one story I’d like to share. I remember one time we were in the airport and I was taking off all his gear and tack and calling him through the scanner. As we were going through the process everyone just stood back. They acted like he was going to do something that they couldn’t control. I stayed calm and just called him over to me. He walked through and all the agents commented on his good behavior. It was a pleasure afterwards to have the stewards meet us and say, “So this is the service dog I’ve been hearing about.”

He gives me confidence to go out in public and security knowing I’m not going to trip and fall somewhere or get frustrated and panic. With the PTSD, and having memory and balance issues, there are many places I wouldn’t go if it were not for Ace.

All the comments I receive about Ace are positive. My friends and family usually say how much attention he gets – it is a bit like being with a celebrity. The most common comment I get is, “I wish my dog was that well trained.”

I thank God every day for Ace. It is because of his devotion and loving disposition that I’ve started a pit bull rescue here. The thought of a dog like Ace with his love and devotion being put to sleep is more than I can stand.

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7 Responses to “Ace of Dogs”
  1. JoséDeJesúsZamora says:

    This is a beautiful story! Ace is awesome! God bless you both!!

  2. amandajfinnell says:

    I never get tired of uplifting bully stories. This story goes to show what a value their physical strength is. Bullies are sturdy and are able to take someones full weight if necessary. Dogs are smart and figure out things very quickly. The more Ace helps his owner the more he gets to do to. What a great team!

  3. 3dcaligirl says:

    Thank you for sharing your story. How amazing are these wonderful dogs, so in tune with their humans that he can sense when your blood pressure is wrong. Many blessings to you all.

  4. StubbyDog says:

    éú@JoséDeJesúsZamora Ace IS awesome. thanks Jose!

  5. StubbyDog says:

    @amandajfinnell We never get tired of them either and there are so many uplifting bully stories out there. Ace and Leah are a fantastic team.

  6. LuvABull.Denver says:

    *Wiping happy tears away.* What a wonderful bully story and I have to add not one bit surprising! They are like all service dog, caring, hard working, strong and get the job done kind of dog!!! Shocking!?!? (Not!)

    I have an American Bulldog (bully breed) that is extremely sensitive to me, if I begin to weep, he is immediately by my side. I had an Am Staff that was the same way. They can read us physically, emotionally and they can tell when our bodies are off, such as blood pressure.

    My brother had a border collie that would wake him in the middle of the night. At first he thought she needed to go out but once he was awake, she would go lay back down. Come to find out, he had sleep apnea and his heart would also stop beating up to six full beats and needed a pace maker. So he was not only not breathing but his heart had stopped AND the dog was flipping up his hand to wake him. Dogs know. That’s my point.

  7. StubbyDog says:

    @LuvABull.Denver Thanks for sharing, it’s just amazing how dogs seem to know us better than we know ourselves.