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Hero dog saves pregnant woman and her preemie

Richard and Janelle Giannetta praised the emergency medical

Richard and Janelle Giannetta praised the emergency medical technicians and the hospital for saving their premature daughter. But Dr. Peter Hong, chief of NUMC's high risk pregnancy service, says "the dog is the real hero." (April 2, 2013) Credit: Newsday / Alejandra Villa

Janelle Giannetta, 26 weeks pregnant with her first child, was fed up with her dog Louie on Friday morning after he playfully jumped on her, scratching her face.

Hours later, the year-old golden doodle was out of the doghouse -- credited with saving the North Merrick woman and her baby.

About 4:30 p.m. Friday, Giannetta said she wasn't feeling well and went upstairs to lie down.

Richard Giannetta, 33, was cleaning up for a family party planned that evening to celebrate his wife's 28th birthday when Louie began to bark incessantly, he said Monday.

Richard thought the dog had seen something in the street, but when he realized the barks were coming from upstairs, he went to investigate. He found the 75-pound dog standing on the bed, barking at his wife.

Janelle was having a seizure. Her tongue was rolled back, and white foam ringed her mouth, Richard said. He called 911 and said he had a hard time getting the protective Louie away from his wife.

"I had to lock him in another room," said Richard, who works for the Long Island Rail Road in administration.

Janelle, a fourth-grade special education teacher in Oceanside, was taken to Nassau University Medical Center in East Meadow, where she was quickly diagnosed with eclampsia. Eclampsia, which affects about 1 in 2,000 pregnant women, is a potentially deadly condition in which the mother develops very high blood pressure, causing seizures and potentially a stroke.

Janelle, who had seen her doctor earlier that day, said she had shown no signs of pre-eclampsia, marked by high blood pressure and urine protein levels.

But that night, Dr. Peter Hong, chief of NUMC's high-risk pregnancy service, said Janelle's blood pressure was "very, very elevated -- severe enough to cause a stroke."

The decision was made to perform a Caesarean section, with Charlotte Marie born around 2:25 a.m. Saturday, weighing a mere 1 pound, 7 ounces.

Tuesday, the mother was doing well and the baby was in the neonatal intensive-care unit, where she's expected to remain until around July -- her due date.

"Basically, it's one step at a time," said Hong, who is cautiously optimistic.

Richard and Janelle praised the responding EMTs and the hospital for their quick action. But Hong credited Louie.

"In my opinion, the dog is the real hero," he said. "If not for the dog's barking, she could have had one seizure after another, after another."

Yet earlier in the day, Louie had been dog-non-grata, so to speak. The lovable but high-energy pet, a poodle-golden retriever mix nicknamed "Louie the Leaper," had jumped on Janelle and accidentally scratched her near her eye.

"We were done," she said, half in jest.

But no more.

"Louie is the champion," she said.

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