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Puppy Helps New Owner with Medical Emergency Days After His Adoption: 'He's the Perfect Choice'

Ryder the dog is now training to be his pet parent's medical alert dog so he can help her manage her postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS)

<p>Amanda McCloskey</p> Ryder the rescue puppy with his owner Amanda McCloskey

Amanda McCloskey

Ryder the rescue puppy with his owner Amanda McCloskey

Ryder the dog proved he was ride or die for his new pet parent days after his adoption.

Before adopting Ryder, Amanda McCloskey fostered the puppy from Charming Pet Rescue in Bexar County, Texas. McCloskey started fostering around Thanksgiving 2023, shortly after she moved to Texas and found herself living alone, wishing for the company of a dog.

Additionally, her parents and doctors were encouraging her to get a medical alert dog to help her manage her postural orthostatic tachycardia syndrome (POTS). POTS is a condition that causes the heart to beat faster than usual when a person transitions from sitting or lying down to standing up, which can lead to lightheadedness, fainting, brain fog, and falls.

"If I am having an episode, it's very common for me to trip. I've tripped and fallen quite a bit. I've ended up in the emergency room because of that," McCloskey tells PEOPLE of the effect POTS has had on her.

With a medical alert dog trained to assist a person with POTS, McCloskey could have a companion to warn her of oncoming episodes and retrieve objects for her, like a phone or cane, when she falls.

Before committing to a medical alert dog, McCloskey wanted to spend time with a dog at her place, so she fostered five-month-old Ryder.

<p>Amanda McCloskey</p> Ryder the dog at home in Texas

Amanda McCloskey

Ryder the dog at home in Texas

"It was supposed to be just a short-term foster. I picked up Ryder, brought him home, and about a day later, I fell in love with him. I was like, 'Okay, there's something about you. We have this connection now,'" McCloskey says.

Shocked by how quickly she fell in love with Ryder, McCloskey accepted her "foster fail" and decided to adopt the young dog. A few days later, Ryder surprised her again.

"We're just watching TV, and he just starts barking at me," McCloskey recalls. At first, the pet parent thought Ryder wanted to go outside, so she stood up to get the dog ready.

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"I stood up to let him out, and that's when my watch started going off, letting me know that my heart rate was over 130. I got super dizzy and sort of blacked out," McCloskey says.

"That was a POTS episode, and that's when I realized. I was like, 'Oh, you were trying to tell me something was wrong with me,'" she says of Ryder's unusual barking. "I was like, 'I think you're going to be great for a medical alert dog.'"

<p>Amanda McCloskey</p> Amanda McCloskey with her rescue dog Ryder, who is training to become her medical alert dog

Amanda McCloskey

Amanda McCloskey with her rescue dog Ryder, who is training to become her medical alert dog

Ryder's readiness to step in and speak up when he sensed something was off — likely through smelling a shift in McCloskey's body chemistry — encouraged McCloskey to look into making the former foster dog her medical alert canine.

"I was like, 'Oh, I guess this is a sign that he's the perfect choice,'" she says of Ryder's adoption.

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As part of the process, McCloskey did an Embark dog DNA test and discovered that Ryder, a slim, short-haired, black-and-brown dog with perky-yet-floppy ears, was 30 percent golden retriever, a dog breed renowned for their trainability as service animals.

After receiving this news, McCloskey enrolled Ryder in medical alert dog training, and the pup started on his service animal journey.

<p>Amanda McCloskey</p> Amanda McCloskey with her rescue dog Ryder

Amanda McCloskey

Amanda McCloskey with her rescue dog Ryder

"He just started the service work training recently. He had to go through puppy foundations. He's only five months old right now, and he's still in the puppy phase. He's learning all the basics of sit, down, stay," McCloskey says of training so far.

"We just started the scent training last week, and he's learning retrieval. He knows fetch, but it's not always, 'Give it back to me right now,' it's, 'Let me go play with it.' That's what we're working on," she adds.

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Once Ryder completes training, which is still months away, he should be able to help alert McCloskey to oncoming POTS episodes — allowing her to find a safe place to rest until they pass —and be able to retrieve items for her to prevent POTS episodes — because bending over to grab something can trigger an episode.

McCloskey says she already feels more comfortable going out now that she has Ryder by her side to look after her. She hopes her fostering and pet adoption experience inspires others to look after a shelter animal.

"It's very rewarding to be able to play a part in this dog's life," McCloskey says of fostering and adopting through a shelter.

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