Boy and His Dog's Lick-It List Goes Viral
Rollason, Kevin, Winnipeg Free Press
Story touches hearts around the world
SHILO -- Bingo's bark helped save the life of a young child who depended on him numerous times when he was younger.
Now Bingo's bark is being heard around the world.
That's because an idea 11-year-old Cole Hein came up with to set up a canine version of a bucket list -- called a lick-it list -- has gone viral and been spotlighted by numerous media outlets, websites and empathetic people around the world after being featured in the Free Press two weeks ago.
"I don't know why (this has happened)," an ecstatic Cole said while sitting with his twin brother, Eric, surrounded by a huge pile of packages and envelopes from around the world. "It's probably because this dog saved a life and she is in the Purina Hall of Fame. If that's not it, I don't know."
"It has just been amazing," Cole's mother, Mandi Hein, said. "I never would have thought it would have exploded like this. But it's about a boy, a dog and a wish. I guess I should have known."
Bingo first romped into Cole's life in 2005, when the boy was two. Cole has an undiagnosed apnea-like disorder that causes him to suddenly stop breathing, day or night, awake or sleeping. It required someone to perform artificial respiration to revive him. He had to be monitored by a caregiver or monitoring instruments 24 hours a day. The condition still affects Cole, but he has learned how to work his way out of it on his own.
National Service Dogs, which normally trains larger dogs to help children with autism, heard about the family's plight and its co-founder trained her own Jack Russell terrier to recognize the child's distinctive gagging noise when he stopped breathing, and then bark to alert his parents or caregivers.
The family has "lost track" how many times Bingo's bark saved Cole's life -- three times during the animal's probation period alone.
But earlier this summer, the family received the devastating news the now 14-year-old Bingo had been diagnosed with canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome and had only weeks to live. The illness is similar to the human version of dementia, and while the dog is on medication for the syndrome, Hein said the dog has "good days and not so good days. …