A woman who faints up to 25 times a DAY has had her life turned around by her devoted black Labrador cross – who warns her BEFORE she collapses.
Helene Barton thought her pup Adel was just a playful pooch when he used to pull at her trousers and try to take her socks off.
But after taking him to doggy training she realised he was actually letting her know she was about to faint.
Helene has fallen down stairs and broken bones as a result of her unpredictable fainting episodes and, at one point, was unable to leave the house.
However, since developing her strong bond with Adel she said her life has been transformed.
Helene, 38, who says her condition is triggered by an eating disorder she battled for years, said: “At first Adel was taking my socks off and getting at my trousers and trying to undress me.
“He would also get himself into a panic and try to get my attention.”
Helene couldn’t understand what Adel was trying to do but, after a trainer spotted the real understanding between dog and owner, it became clear Adel was trying to alert Helene that she was about to faint.
Helene, who is married to Bill, said: “Instead of training Adel, the training began to focus on me and how I could recognise the signs of what he was trying to tell me.
“He was trying to tell me I was about to pass out but, at first, I was not seeing the signs.
“I realised when Adel was trying to take my socks off, he was attempting to tell me to sit down as he thought I was going to faint.
“Over a period of 18 months, I was taught to read Adel’s signs and he learnt specific tasks that would help me.”
If Adel could not get Helen’s socks off, he would not stop in his quest to warn her about what was going to happen.
Helene said: “When he could not get my socks off, he started putting his right paw on my right foot.
“Now, about three to five minutes before a fainting spell, Adel puts his right front paw on my right foot and presses with all his weight.
“This alerts me and gives me time to get myself to a safe location before I faint.
“Often, before or after fainting, I drop things which Adel duly picks up for me. If I fall or have a problem, I just have to say, ‘phone’ and he will get it for me.
“If really necessary, I say, ‘help’ and he will fetch someone or press my panic alarm.
“However, if possible he will always stay by my side until I come around and am
back on my feet.”
Helene has struggled with an eating disorder since age 12 which has caused fainting episodes.
Helene, from Garstang, Lancs., said: “I have suffered from an eating disorder most of my life and would sway between anorexia and bulimia.
“All my energy was taken up trying to ignore thoughts of eating and, as a result, my brain would go into meltdown and shut down.
“I was like a computer that gets too hot and over used and suddenly stops working and that’ s when I would faint.
“At my worst, I simply could not function and barely left the house – I was scared about what could happen to me and my husband didn’t like to leave me alone and had to spend a lot of time helping me.”
Now, with Adel, Helene feels much more confident and has even started her own dog grooming business.
Helene said: “Adel has completely changed my life for the better and I have gone from being a recluse to running my own business.
“Adel accompanies me to work every day and is with me all the time at home.
“Without him, I can’t imagine where I would be now, but I know it would be a dark place.
“With Adel by my side, I have confidence as I know he will give me a five minute warning before I faint so I can get myself, the other dogs and the tills into safety.
“If he can’t get to me, he ‘screams’ really loud and lets out a high pitched yelp.
“Since having Adel, on a really bad week, I faint about five times a week which is a dramatic difference to 25 times a day.”
With the help of assistance dog charity Dog AID, Adel has become a fully qualified assistance dog and Helene can go further afield and she travelled to Sweden without fear.
She said: “For the first time in years, I didn’t have to be in a wheelchair or ask my husband to take me to places.
“I could actually go into the Duty Free shop alone and look at what I wanted
“The sense of freedom and independence Adel has given me is amazing – my life has improved a lot thanks to Adel.
“My husband can go to work knowing that I am safe and even when we are at home, we don’t have to be together all the time.”
Helen added: “Adel is amazing and has saved my life more than once. I can never repay him for everything he has done for me. I need him to be around forever.”