For Jade Ambrose, there was never any question about getting a dog when she got her own home. Indeed, she’d always had them around when she was a kid. However, when she and her partner Paul Stacey started a family, the pair did wonder whether the timing was right. Drawn to an unabashedly romantic idea of a dog and child growing up together, though, they went ahead and welcomed a puppy into the family. Little did they know that just months later the pup would avert a potentially heartbreaking tragedy.
Yes, Jade Ambrose, from Leeds in the U.K., had always had a soft spot for dogs. In fact, the 23-year-old had been surrounded by them as a child. As a result, she knew that she would like one when she set up her own home in later life. But there was something holding her back: the fact that she was pregnant with her first child.
Subsequently, Ambrose and Stacey deliberated over whether it was the right time to get a puppy. But after some serious thought, they decided to go ahead and get one. Through lots of research, then, they learned that Staffordshire Bull Terriers were good with kids, and Ambrose liked the idea of the dog and child growing up together.
Speaking to The Mirror in November 2016, Ambrose said, “We did umm and ahh over whether this was the right time to get a dog. But we decided that if we got a dog now, then the dog and our son could both grow up together.” It was a plan that would materialize slightly more swiftly than they had anticipated, however.
That’s because the litter that the puppy had been taken from had to be re-homed urgently when their mom began to reject them. Normally, puppies stay with their mothers for about two months; Lola, on the other hand, was only six weeks old when Ambrose adopted her.
And Ambrose, who was halfway through her second trimester, had a lot of caring to do for the tiny puppy. The kindergarten nurse duly hand-reared Lola, feeding her puppy milk and showering her with cuddles and attention. It was likely through this time spent together that Lola formed an incredibly tight partnership with Ambrose.
“Because Lola was really too young to have left her mom, it meant that we struck up a really close bond,” Ambrose explained to The Mirror. But Ambrose wasn’t the only person that the puppy had formed a close relationship with. Indeed, the young woman added, “[Lola] also got very close to my bump.” And so, fascinated by her pregnant belly, Lola grew to be rather protective of Ambrose.
“It was so funny to see,” Ambrose said. “It was as if she knew there was another heartbeat – somebody else in there.” Lola even developed a nurturing instinct toward the bump. As Ambrose explained, “She would love to watch the baby inside kicking and would want to lick my tummy when she saw it move.” What’s more, the pair would often snuggle up together.
Ambrose further told The Mirror, “[Lola] would lay across my tummy to snuggle with me and the baby. It was so lovely to see.” And it was perhaps this closeness and attention from Lola that triggered a barking frenzy one night as she lay in Ambrose and Stacey’s bed. Indeed, although she was at that point only four months old, it seems that Lola still detected that something was not right and so needed to alert Ambrose.
By this time, Ambrose had been with child for only 33 weeks and was still nearly two months away from her due date. That night, however, she and Stacey awoke to the sound of Lola’s frantic barking. “At first we didn’t realize what was going on,” Ambrose told The Mirror. But it wasn’t long before it dawned on them that something was seriously wrong.
“When Lola woke us [we] thought she must have been barking at something outside,” Ambrose added to the British newspaper. “But then we realized she was barking at me.” Lola, it seemed, had sensed that there was a problem and that she needed to tell Ambrose of the apparent danger.
“It was only when I got up to go to the bathroom that I realized I was losing blood,” Ambrose further revealed. Indeed, Lola had apparently sensed something that Ambrose hadn’t noticed while she was asleep: the mom-to-be was experiencing signs of a miscarriage. Furthermore, Ambrose’s waters had broken prematurely, so she immediately went to hospital for urgent medical care.
“Doctors told me that if I had not gone to hospital when I did I would have had to go ahead with the delivery that night,” Ambrose explained to The Mirror. The medical staff, however, were able to prevent Ambrose from miscarrying. And, amazingly, she would go on to carry her baby for a further eight weeks.
On August 23, 2016, then, Ambrose gave birth to a healthy little boy named Oliver. In an ironic twist, doctors had made the decision to deliver the baby by cesarean section, as a full five days after Ambrose’s due date, Oliver had showed no signs of wanting to come out of his own accord. Still, Ambrose is all too aware of just how differently things could have played out.
“Who knows what would have happened?” Ambrose said to The Mirror. And she believes that had it not been for Lola’s warning, the outcome could have been devastating. “There might have been all sorts of complications, and certainly with Oliver beginning his life in an incubator.”
Indeed, although babies born at 32 to 33 weeks stand a 98 percent chance of survival, there are still potential difficulties. Not all are able to breathe and feed on their own, for example, and so they often need help. And although they are less likely to develop disabilities compared to babies born earlier, there’s still a risk of behavioral or learning difficulties.
Meanwhile, Ambrose attributes Lola’s attentiveness to the strong bond that the pair developed early on in the puppy’s life. “Because little Lola was really too young to have left her mom it meant that we struck up a really close bond.” But was it their bond, or some sort of doggy intuition, that sent Lola into a barking frenzy that night?
Well, dogs have 220 million scent receptors in each of their noses, which means that they can detect the most minute changes in odor. And researchers believe that it’s changes in their owners’ unique hormones and scents that dogs can sniff out. Which may be why Lola had sensed that something was wrong with Ambrose.
Whatever the reason, though, Ambrose is in no doubt that Lola prevented a bad situation from becoming much, much worse. “If Lola had not have woken me I don’t know what would have happened,” she explained to The Mirror. “I hadn’t been in any pain at all. I’d have just slept through and it could have been devastating.”
What’s more, it now seems that Lola has developed a bond with her new playmate, Oliver. Ambrose remarked, “I can see a future where they will have lots of fun-packed days together, with them playing together in the garden.” And she won’t let Lola’s heroism go unrecognized, either. “We will let Oliver know what Lola did for him, because Lola is amazing,” she concluded.