It was early morning when the dogs started barking, which was unusual enough in itself. What was even stranger, though, was that one of them was trying to pull their owner Lonnie Chester to the door. Then when he let the dogs out, Lonnie couldn’t believe what he saw in the driveway.
The Chester family are Susan and Lonnie, a couple who live with their two dogs in Norvell Township, Michigan. Their pets, Adam and Eva, are labradoodles – which are crossbreeds of Labradors and poodles. They’re a breed that are renowned for their sociability and intelligence.
In fact, breeders originally crossbred labradoodles as assistance dogs, but the animals’ affectionate natures have also made them popular pets. And Susan Chester spoke highly of the animals’ cleverness, too, in an interview with MLive on January 18, 2018. “I do find these dogs to be exceptionally intelligent,” she said.
“They just pick up on things so fast,” Susan continued. “And they really pay attention to everything that’s going on.” With that in mind, then, the Chesters certainly notice when Adam and Eva start behaving strangely. And that’s just what happened on a cold winter day at the beginning of 2018.
Yes, January 13, 2018, was a chilling morning in Michigan – but not just because of the low temperatures. Unknown to the Chesters, a shocking scene was waiting for them outside their home, and it was Adam and Eva who were first aware that something was amiss.
At 4:30 a.m. in the morning, the labradoodles woke their humans up by barking incessantly. And considering how well-behaved Adam and Eva usually are, the disturbance was troubling for the Chesters. Susan described the incident in an interview with NBC News on January 22, 2018.
“Adam and Eva began to get intensely restless in our room where they sleep,” she recalled. “And it was definitely out of the ordinary.” When Lonnie attended to the dogs, however, their unusual behavior only intensified. They seemed desperate to get outside.
What’s more, not only were the dogs barking, but they were also frantically trying to get Lonnie’s attention. Apparently, Adam even tugged at his human’s sleeve with his mouth to lead him to the door. It certainly all seemed very strange, and Lonnie had never witnessed the labradoodles react like this in the past.
“[Adam] never tugged on my clothes before,” Lonnie told MLive. “So I was a cautious about letting them out, because I didn’t know if there was anything out there.” But the dogs reacted even before their owner could wholly open the door.
Indeed, Eva was through the gap in the door almost immediately, and Adam quickly followed. “I opened the door, Eva squeezed out, [and] Adam ran out,” Lonnie recalled. The dogs ran to the Chesters’ truck in the driveway, and Lonnie followed them into the night.
To Lonnie’s surprise, the dogs led him to a heartbreaking discovery: there was a person on the ground. On closer inspection, the figure turned out to be an elderly woman clad in just her nightgown – and she must have been freezing in the 9 °F temperatures.
“She looked up at me and said, I’m so cold,” Lonnie told NBC News. “I have no idea how long she had been out there. She must have been terrified.” Lonnie subsequently took the woman into his home and placed some blankets over her.
The Chesters also immediately called 911, and just a few minutes later the police arrived to pick the woman up. Emergency services then took her to hospital, where she was treated for exposure. But although the Chesters had saved the lady’s life, her experience in the cold still came at a cost.
The early morning chill resulted in the woman suffering frostbite on her foot. However, she nonetheless pulled through and is now back at home recovering with her husband. Both he and the missing woman’s son had been searching for her when the Chester dogs made their discovery.
“I believe that she will be 90 years old next month,” Susan explained. “I do believe she was confused, and that’s the only reason that happened.” Susan also mentioned that her house was the sole lit property on the street, which may have attracted the lady’s attention.
Of course, credit for the rescue also had to go to Adam and Eva. Without the heroic hounds, the lady may have suffered for even longer – or not been found at all. “It could have been a tragic outcome had Adam and Eva not woken us,” Susan told MLive.
“I don’t know how they knew she was out there,” Susan admitted. “The dogs may have saved a life. They really, possibly, did save this woman’s life.” And the Chesters couldn’t be prouder of their furbabies.
“[We felt] just incredible,” Susan informed NBC News. “Just incredibly proud, just amazed at these dogs and how sensitive they are. They just have super sensitivities – they seem incredibly intelligent to me. [And] they pick up on things, they’re really responsive, and [they’re] really tuned-in dogs.”
Moreover, this rescue came on the back of another similar incident that Susan had been involved in just two months previously. On that occasion, it was actually her own mother who wandered off and suffered in the cold weather. In fact, Susan’s mom is still receiving treatment as a consequence of her ordeal.
And while the Chesters couldn’t have been more proud of their pets, Lonnie was quick to also praise emergency services for their speedy response time. “I’ve got to give 911 major credit, because they were here really fast after I called,” he told MLive. Susan added, “I hope this serves as a wake-up call for everyone, especially with it being so cold out.”