Bingo was her name-o
One small Jack Russell terrier named Bingo has made a world of difference in the lives of Corporal Dwayne Hein and his family. A former hearing dog, Bingo has been trained to bark whenever eight-year-old Cole Hein stops breathing.
Mandi Hein gave birth to twin boys, Cole and Eric, in the summer of 2001 – three months early. As is normal with such premature babies, both boys suffered bouts of bradycardia, an abnormally slow heart rate, and apnea, a temporary inability to breathe.
“The first time I held [Cole], he turned blue and I was screaming for the nurses,” recalls Ms. Hein. “The nurse took him and rubbed his back until he started breathing again and then gave him back to me.” Unlike other premature babies, Cole did not outgrow the apnea; it continues to this day.
For the first 14 months of the boys’ lives,Cpl and Ms.Hein took turns sleeping and watching over their sons. Cpl Hein would sleep after he got home from work and then stand watch from midnight till seven while his wife got some sleep. “For us, this was just the way we parented,” Ms. Hein says. “That’s how the boys were; that’s all we knew.” The Heins also had round-the-clock nursing assistance in the house from the boys’ homecoming in September 2001 until April 2006.
“The military’s been very good to our family,” Ms. Hein says.With the help of a one-time family grant, the Heins were able to purchase a saturation monitor that measured the oxygen in Cole’s blood. However, by the time Cole turned two, he was moving around more and setting off false alarms almost constantly, leaving Ms. Hein looking for another way to monitor him.
Cole’s bouts of apnea are preceded by retching and, while his breathing doesn’t stop each time he retches, he never experiences apnea without retching. Ms. Hein figured that if a dog could help deaf parents by tapping them when the baby cries, there was no good reason a dog couldn’t bark to let her know when Cole was retching.
“Cole couldn’t play in a room with his twin by himself; he had to have someone in the room while he played,” says Ms.Hein. “When he slept, someone was in the room watching him sleep. We wanted to give him some independence so that’s when I started calling people about service dogs.” Her phone bill that month was $700.
Eventually, she reached Danielle Forbes at National Service Dogs, an organization that trains dogs to work with autistic children. Usually, these are larger dogs like golden retrievers. The fact that she even had Bingo was a minor miracle, says Ms. Hein.
Ms. Forbes was able to train Bingo on the audio of a video Ms.Hein had taken of Cole retching. After a visit to test for compatibility, and five months of training, Bingo moved in with the Heins in May, 2005. During her first six months with Cole, Bingo saved his life three times.
With Bingo to help keep an eye on Cole, Cpl Hein was able to deploy to Afghanistan in January of 2006. “I just remember thinking to myself at Christmas, ‘Are they both going to be here next year?’” recalls Ms.Hein.Cpl Hein deployed again in February 2008.
“Bingo gave us our family back,” says Ms. Hein. “She gave our son back his life, but she also gave us back our family.” Bingo is 10 years old now. She has cataracts and can’t see very well, and although she’s retired, she doesn’t know it.Neither does Cole.
- Bingo was her name-o
- Op CADENCE
- JTF-2 receives CF Unit Commendation
- French warship completes final mission
- Memories of a prairie vet
- Ethically, what would you do?
- Navy legacy in Edmonton
- CF soldiers killed in Afghanistan
- Information Assurance Symposium 2010
- Running for Afghan villages
- Captain to compete for world taekwondo title
- FMF Cape Scott gets upgrades, sub facility
- The Queen’s Canadian Pipe Major
- SLOWPOKE-2 turns 25
- Ex FRONTIER SENTINEL