German Shepherd Honored as National Hero Dog for Saving Owner’s Life

The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Los Angeles has presented its 30th Annual National Hero Dog Award to Bear, a 5 year-old Shiloh German Shepherd from Milsap, Texas.  The ceremony was held this morning at Nokia Plaza in downtown Los Angeles.

Debbie Zeisler has suffered from seizures since a riding accident 18 years ago.  Her adopted dog Bear, with no formal training, has learned to detect when a seizure is coming.  In May of 2011, Bear tried to stop her from going outside, but she pushed past him.  Almost immediately, she was hit with a seizure, fell down the front steps of her home and hit her head.  She was out cold.

Bear ran from house to house, scratching on the front doors, trying to find help.  Bear was about a block away from home when, as luck would have it, an animal control officer from Parker County spotted him.  With Bear’s help, the officer found Debbie lying in the hot sun, disoriented and confused.  Paramedics were called and Bear rode with Debbie in the ambulance to the hospital.

Bear, who was adopted from a shelter, has no formal training as a service dog.  He naturally developed the ability to sense an oncoming seizure.  He directs Debbie to take her medication every morning and on occasion, has fetched it for her.

“This just goes to show how amazing shelter dogs can be,” said spcaLA President, Madeline Bernstein, “If Debbie had not adopted Bear, where would she and Bear be today?  The bond between an animal and his human companion is powerful and life-saving.”


  1. Love it, way to go Bear!!! <3

  2. Janelle says on  05/07/2012 at 8:01 pm

    Just love this story. Again, look what an animal can do. Great job Bear!!!!

  3. Cindi says on  05/07/2012 at 8:01 pm


  4. Janell says on  05/07/2012 at 8:02 pm

    Amen Bear! You are a true hero!!

  5. Love the story an good news good things happen.

  6. Teresa says on  05/07/2012 at 8:07 pm

    A true hero!!!!

  7. Margo says on  05/07/2012 at 8:07 pm

    Yea Bear!!!!!

  8. Anne says on  05/07/2012 at 8:09 pm

    Rags to riches. And we are all better persons because of bear.

  9. Anonymous says on  05/07/2012 at 8:10 pm

    Beautiful story, GSD are awesome, Rescued GSD are even MORE awesome!!

  10. Pat says on  05/07/2012 at 8:10 pm

    great dog !!!

  11. That’s amazing !!

  12. Lizzie says on  05/07/2012 at 8:24 pm

    awesome Bear! and thanks to your wonderful human both hero’s! ♥

  13. Rebecca says on  05/07/2012 at 8:27 pm


  14. Wow! <3

  15. No doubt…Man’s best friend or in this case Woman’s. What a special boy.

  16. Once again – adopt, don’t buy. Shelter dogs really do appreciate you more. I believe they know they’ve been saved.

  17. Lorna says on  05/07/2012 at 8:52 pm

    Rescued animals are grateful you saved them.

  18. Christine says on  05/07/2012 at 8:53 pm

    Great story yay Bear <3

  19. Gud boy!

  20. Vida says on  05/07/2012 at 10:16 pm

    God bless them!

  21. Cheryl F says on  05/08/2012 at 11:37 am

    I believe Bear picked her to be his person and she absolutely adopted the right dog!

    Incredibly tragic when one realizes that millions of healthy, life-saving, joy-giving dogs and cats are put down every single year. Unbearable to think about.

  22. Tracey says on  05/08/2012 at 11:46 am

    She rescued him and now Bear will spend his life rescuing her. How great is that?! Love this story.

  23. Karyn says on  05/08/2012 at 11:49 am

    …..Bear ran from house to house, scratching on the front doors, trying to find help. Bear was about a block away from home when, as luck would have it, an animal control officer from Parker County spotted him……

    The cynic in me can’t help but think the animal control officer was just out to capture a loose GSD…and if he had, the dog would have gone straight to the pound….I imagine Bear evaded capture until he got back to his own home and then the officer realized what the situation was…..

    • Anonymous says on  05/09/2012 at 9:32 pm

      How amazing. I currently have a lab. I know she senses my change in moods and illnesses. She is 10 and only started this 2 years ago. I would like to stay in touch with this group as I would like a seizure dog in the near future. All you insite would be helpful.

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