Dog saves Rockford man by eating his toe

Rockford, Mich. (WZZM) – He can joke about it now, but the day Jerry Douthett woke up and found his dog had eaten his big toe, he wasn’t laughing.

“I started screaming for help for Rosee and I went to the bathroom to rinse my foot off and the toe was gone.”

Jerry’s wife Rosee found their dog Kiko covered in blood sitting on the bed where Jerry had been napping. “He took it right off at the toe nail…and also took the bone with it too.”

Jerry’s toe had been sore for more than a month. Jerry had tried to take care if it on his own. “(It) turned into an ulcer,” explains Jerry. “It was like about the size of a nickel and the skin around it kept dying, so I would peel that back with scissors.”

But it just didn’t get any better.

Turns out, according to Spectrum Health’s Dr. Russell Lampen, Jerry was in the advance stages of type 2 diabetes. “As diabetes goes uncontrolled, people develop vascular disease in their feet and they also develop nerve damage to the point of where he can’t feel things,” Dr. Lampen said.

Thinking back, Jerry says he did have a few signs. “A couple months back, I noticed that I couldn’t get enough water. I kinda got numbness in the feet too… that’s kind of a tell-tale sign.”

It was a series of events that led to their Jack Russell Terrier having the opportunity to gnaw off his master’s big toe.  Jerry and Rosee went downtown to celebrate Rosee becoming a citizen. After celebrating with a few beers and a few margaritas, followed by a nap, it led to Kiko’s opportune moment to take care of the infection himself. “Anything that had an infection in it, he ate.”

Dogs have a sense of smell a trillion times stronger than humans. They’ve been trained to smell and detect cancer, brain aneurisms and even diabetic shock.  The burnquestion is – did Kiko know Jerry was sick? Or was he just attracted to the smell?

We may never know the answer but there is one thing Jerry does know – “He did save my life. Otherwise, I would have never went in. I wonder how much longer (if) I would have waited.”

Not long, because Jerry was out of time. When he was admitted to the hospital, his blood sugar was over 500 – normal is between 80 and 100 – and the infection was so bad it had reached his bone and doctors amputated his toe.

“I do miss it. I miss my toe,” says Jerry, but at least he won’t be missing the rest of his life… unless Kiko’s gets another whiff of something smelly.