CLIFTON HEIGHTS, PA — The first time Meatball met Joe McCarty, the Afghan Kuchi puppy welcomed his new owner by peeing on him.
Five months later, McCarty and his wife, Kim, laugh at the story. That’s because Meatball and Joe now share a bond so tight that the 9-month-old dog knows when Joe isn’t right. That keen awareness might have saved Joe’s life earlier this month.
Kim said she was upstairs preparing to fall asleep one night when she heard Meatball begin barking incessantly. Meatball, Kim said, is not known for barking.
“I knew either there was somebody in the house or something had happened,” Kim said.
Joe, who served as a firefighter for the Sharon Hill Fire Department for 15 years, has suffered four strokes and is paralyzed on his left side.
Kim rushed down to the basement, where she found Joe laying on the couch suffering from what Kim deemed a “full seizure.” She also saw Meatball perched on top of Joe, endlessly licking him in an attempt to bring him out of the seizure.
Kim said she had to physically remove Meatball, who now weights about 70 pounds, so she could give Joe his medication. As Joe regained composure, Kim said Meatball never left his side.
“After that, he curled up with his paw on Joe’s arm,” Kim said. “He just knows.”
It’s also not the first time Meatball has sensed something was wrong with Joe. Earlier in the fall, Kim said a similar situation occurred. Even if Joe is suffering from something as simple as a headache, she said Meatball notices.
“It’s very good,” Joe said.
Because of his keen instincts, the McCartys are considering getting Meatball trained as a certified therapy dog to assist Joe. Joe has not worked as a full-time firefighter for three years, but still volunteers as a photographer for the department. He said he often takes photos of buildings after the fire is put out for the benefit of the fire marshal.
Having served on the night shift for years, Joe still keeps similar hours. Meatball is always with him keeping company. Meatball, who could max out at 180 pounds, often helps Joe keep his balance.
“He just knows,” Kim said. “He’s very, very in tune.”
What perhaps makes the story even more remarkable is that the McCartys adopted Meatball through Puppy Rescue Mission, an organization that places dogs found by soldiers oversees with owners. Thus, Kim said, the McCartys had no idea what type of temperament Meatball would have until they picked him up.
“He’s very quiet and he’s very calm,” Kim said, which she added suits Joe and their dalmatian, Lucky, perfectly.
The McCartys adopted Meatball in August. Soldier Darren Gainer had rescued a litter of dogs, including Meatball, from an abandoned trailer in Afghanistan.
“That’s how Meatball came to be a McCarty,” Kim said.
Kim said the McCartys decided to adopt a foreign dog after they spent a week watching their friends’ dog, Cash, which also was rescued from overseas. Cash belongs to the family that adopted another famous Delco dog, Sgt. Sneezy, which had been brought back from Afghanistan.
Just like Sgt. Sneezy did, Meatball is drawing all sorts of attention. Kim said the dog’s popularity soared after a local television station aired a story about Meatball saving Joe. Meatball also was featured Sunday on “Fox and Friends,” a morning television show aired on the Fox News Channel.
Kim said she also has received numerous cards and gifts from people who follow Meatball’s Facebook page. That page includes various photos of Meatball’s first five months with the McCartys, who picked him up Aug. 10 at the Newark International Airport.
“All he wanted to do when he got off the plane was roll in the grass,” Kim said. “He had never seen grass. It was all new.”
Meatball had spent the previous 21 hours in a plastic transportation crate, including a tarmac delay, en route to America. But as the McCartys drove Meatball home, Kim said the dog peacefully slept.
“He was as good as gold,” she said.
It’s a sentiment that has only grown stronger.
~ Courtesy of Delaware County Times
Tags: dog saves owner, service dog, Therapy dog