An assistance dog whose quick action saved a Reaseheath College student from a potentially devastating house fire has won a national award.
German shepherd Mia, a specially trained medical alert dog, rescued Melody Chen after she lost consciousness due to a medical episode at home. Melody felt unwell while cooking breakfast and lay down, forgetting she was heating oil in a frying pan.
As the oil burst into flames, Mia brought Melody round by licking her face and barking, then tugged at her sleeve and guided her to the back door. Fortunately Melody, who suffers from low blood sugar, a heart condition and is asthmatic, only needed a checkover from medics but realised that the outcome could have been much worse if it hadn’t been for her remarkable dog.
Melody, 20, who is studying for a Level 3 Advanced Technical Diploma in Animal Management at the Nantwich college, said: “When I came round Mia was barking frantically, which is very unusual for her. As I passed the kitchen door I realised that the flames were ceiling height and that we needed to get out fast.
“What was specially amazing is that Mia isn’t yet two years old and had never seen flames before. The way she reacted to it was really something – she just knew she had to get me out. She wasn’t even wearing her jacket, which signifies she’s ‘on duty’ – she chose to work. I don’t want to think what would have happened if Mia hadn’t been there.”
Mia had already been nominated for the annual Animal Star Awards 2023 before the fire, by a friend who saw how much confidence Mia gave Melody. Previously Melody avoided going out due to her health issues, but she is now able to enjoy student life at college with Mia by her side.
Judges at the Animal Star Awards were impressed by the pair’s close bond, and earlier this month Mia was crowned Assistance Dog of the Year at a black tie ceremony in Portsmouth. The panel was particularly interested because Melody has owned Mia since she was eight weeks old and has done all her training with guidance from a tutor, rather than taking on the dog after professional training.
Melody, who wants to study paramedic science at university after completing her course, explained: “Mia and I have learned everything together, which makes our bond really special. She alerts me when my levels of heart rate, blood sugar and blood pressure are too high or low so I can sit down safely without fainting.
“She’s done so much for me. Some dogs don’t make it as assistance dogs, but she’s great at her job and she loves it. She’s the reason that I can leave the house and go to college. Mia definitely deserves her award and I’m so proud of her.”