A DOG has been hailed as a Christmas hero for rescuing a pensioner who had fallen in her garden and was at risk of hypothermia.
Two-year-old Hatchi has now been given the Dog of the Month award for saving the frail Cork pensioner.
The woman, who does not want to be identified, fell in her back garden in Wilton on Cork's southside, sustaining cuts and bruises. She was unable to get back up and was lying on the freezing ground.
Denis Twomey, who walks the Golden Labrador for his owner, Sheila Coughlan, said the dog immediately sensed there was something wrong as they strolled past Summerstown estate.
"We were on our normal route and heading toward the green. Then, totally out of the blue, he stopped dead and wouldn't budge. This was really out of the ordinary for Hatchi.
"He began pulling backward in the direction he had come. When I tried to move forward, he took a hold of my trouser leg and pulled me back."
Denis immediately suspected something was wrong.
"I decided to ring the house bell as I am familiar with this elderly neighbour."
There was no answer but he heard moans from the back garden.
Denis, a paramedic, attended to the woman. She was helped indoors and later received precautionary medical attention but has made a full recovery.
Animal behavioural expert, Nanci Creedon, awarded Hatchi their Dog of the Month honour for his praising his "superior intelligence, fantastic problem-solving abilities and an empathy level that people often assume is missing in dogs".