Three year-old Belle Weaver flew into Washington on Monday night to meet her Congressman, and to receive an award for heroism after saving her best friend's life.
As she trotted onstage with five other award-winning heroes, Belle's age was not all that set her apart from the other award recipients.
A pint-sized beauty with dark-brown eyes, floppy ears, and a very wet nose, Miss Belle is a beagle that used her owner's cell phone to call an ambulance for him.
Kevin Weaver was lying unconscious on his kitchen floor after a severe diabetic seizure when Belle quickly found his cell phone and bit the number 9 on the keypad, which was programmed to dial 911.
At the other end of the line, all the Police Department heard was incessant barking, but they sent an ambulance anyway, and Mr. Weaver was soon rushed to the hospital with dangerously low blood sugar.
"There is no doubt in my mind that I'd be dead if I didn't have my Belle," he said.
Monday night, Miss Belle became the first non-human to receive the Vita Wireless Samaritan Award, which honors those who use their cell phones to save lives, to stop crime, or to help in other emergencies.
Belle's act of heroism was the result of nine months of training as a diabetic-alert dog, schooled to sense when her owner's blood sugar is too high or too low. And her keen sense of smell is hundreds of times better than any humanís.
On the day of his seizure, Mr. Weaver woke up feeling dizzy and nauseated, and Belle definitely knew that something was wrong.
"She started scratching at me and whining. I thought maybe she had to go to the bathroom, not hitting on what was going on. So I took her outside and brought her back in, and that's when I had the seizure," Mr. Weaver said.
Belle, who was returned to a pet shop twice by unhappy owners before Weaver brought her home, is part of a growing canine corps of assistants to physically challenged owners.
Medical service dogs are trained to turn on lights, open drawers, pick up dropped objects, and recognize the sound of doorbells, fire alarms, and crying babies.
Way to go, Belle!!