Usually, people aren’t completely aware of their surroundings at all times. In fact, the number of things that human beings can pay attention to at one time is comparatively small, and a large number of events may go unnoticed on a daily basis. But dogs are different. They’re instinctual, and they’re often aware of things go that right over our head.
Nowhere was that more apparent than in Suffolk, Virginia in December 2015. What started out as a regular walk around the neighborhood quickly turned into a rescue mission for Rebecca Burley and her dog Roxanne. And it might have played out differently if Burley had left Roxanne at home.
Burley told local ABC affiliate 13 News Now that she was on her way to volunteer at a shelter where she’d adopted Roxanne a few months ago.
“When I started to go, put on my sneakers, Roxanne decided that she wanted to go for a walk as well,” Burley said.
It’s a good thing she did. The walk started normally enough. The school teacher ambled along the quiet suburban streets that made up her neighborhood. But she quickly realized something was different that morning. The police presence around her house was abnormally high, and there seemed to be a lot of activity.
“One of the officers pulled up and asked if we’d seen somebody walking around in a nightgown,” Burley said. She hadn’t, nor did she expect to. She politely told the officer that she would keep an eye out and would let him know if she came across anything. It was a promise she unwittingly would have to fulfill.
No more than five minutes later, Roxanne started to pull Burley towards a ditch next to the road. Normally mild-mannered on her leash, Burley thought she better take a look and see what had caught her dog’s attention. To her shock, there was an elderly woman laying in the ditch.
“There was a woman, laying on the ground, in a nightgown.”
Burley immediately called emergency services who were already on alert for the senior citizen. Fire and rescue personnel arrived quickly and transported her to Bon Secours Maryview Medical Center.
Police believe she wandered away from a relative’s home nearby, lost her footing, and fell into the ditch.
Burley says there is no way she would have seen the woman laying in the ditch if it weren’t for Roxanne alerting her.
“I definitely, as a person, would have not been paying attention to the ditch that collects water and where people throw their trash,” Burley said.
A regular volunteer at the animal shelter, she hopes the story will help inspire more people to give animals in shelters a chance.
Burley says she didn’t know the elderly woman personally and wasn’t sure how she was doing. But had it not been for Roxanne, she would have been laying there much longer, and the story might have ended tragically.
Burley gave Roxanne an extra cookie at the end of the walk for her heroism.