Heroine hound saves the life of St Albans owner after he suffers stroke

Sophie in Highfield Park

Sophie in Highfield Park - Credit: Archant

A faithful dog is being hailed as a heroine for saving the life of her owner after he suffered a severe stroke and was left unconscious in a St Albans park.

Barry Bracey, 57, of Cairns Close, St Albans, was walking Sophie, his 10-year-old Jack Russell/Patterdale cross, in Highfield Park earlier this month when he collapsed, falling onto a ants nest in a wooded area.

A distraught Sophie ran out of the woods to where St Albans Youth FC was holding a training camp and alerted senior coaches Sam Bardle and Bradley Bennett with her frantic behaviour.

They followed Sophie into woodland close to the park pavilion where they found Barry lying unconscious.

Sam and Bradley immediately dialled 999 while Sophie sat beside Barry licking his face until a blue light ambulance arrived. He was taken to the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery in Queen Square, London, and although he is now being treated locally, he is going to need a wheelchair for some time and faces a long recovery period.

Barry’s ex partner Sara Heard said Sophie had been her father’s dog and when the couple had separated and she moved to Thaxted in Essex, she had left her with him.

She said: “He kept Sophie because she loved that park and kept Barry going. It was best for both of them and they made lots of friends with dog walkers in the park.”

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Sara said she could imagine Sophie “barking and running backwards and forwards” in front of Sam and Bradley to try and get them to understand what had happened.

And although Barry was now recovering, Sophie was clearly missing him even though she is being cared for by his daughter Carly.

Sara said: “Sophie saved Barry’s life and it is almost as though she is aware of that.”

St Albans Youth FC trustee Mervyn Morgan said that Sophie had been very agitated and had been barking at the two coaches to get them to follow her into the woods.

Sam and Bradley had phoned him and he drove down to the park just as the ambulance arrived.

Mervyn went on: “The field where the pavilion is is surrounded by woods which are very popular with dog walkers. There are paths through them and he must have taken poorly and gone off the general path.

“What was marvellous is that Sophie the dog stayed with Barry from when we got there until she was confident that the paramedics were dealing with him.”