Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

'Bingo needs to go to heaven'

Jack Russell terrier saved Manitoba boy's life many times

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The bark that saved a Manitoba boy's life countless times and was recently heard around the world has been silenced.

Bingo, a 14-year-old Jack Russell terrier who was trained to bark to alert caregivers to resuscitate Cole Hein whenever the now-11-year-old stopped breathing and gave a distinctive gagging noise, was euthanized on Tuesday.

Cole's mother, Mandi, said the family came to the tough decision last week after Bingo's seizures became worse, a result of the dog's diagnosis of canine cognitive dysfunction syndrome, the canine version of dementia.

Mandi said when she told her son they could wait longer if he wanted, the child himself said while crying, "Mom, Bingo needs to go to heaven. She is not the Bingo I used to know. She is suffering and I want her to stop suffering and not have any more seizures."

A statement from Cole issued Tuesday says: "Bingo will ask God if he could help the dogs on Earth more by helping dogs living in pounds, shelters, rescue groups get good homes with loving new moms and dads and children who will love them as much as I love Bingo."

The boy and his dog became known around the world after a Free Press story published last month detailed the boy's idea of a lick-it list for his dying dog.

The list included a wish that people around the globe send treats to the canine. When the story went viral, hundreds of treats were mailed to them in Shilo. Their story was also featured by an unknown number of media outlets and websites, including People magazine, CNN, NBC, Pet Health Network and Animal Connection. The pair were mentioned by Today Show hosts Kathie Lee Gifford and Hoda Kotb, who said the story was bringing them to tears.

Bingo came into Cole's life in 2005. The boy had to be monitored 24 hours a day because he has an apnea-like disorder that can stop him from breathing.

Through an article in the Free Press, the family learned about National Service Dogs, which normally trains larger dogs to help children with autism. After they contacted the organization, its co-founder trained her own dog to alert the family.

Bingo's greatest legacy is Cole's life: The boy is alive in large part because of the dog's devotion and the numerous times he alerted the boy's parents their son was in distress.

But Bingo's name will live on thanks to animal activist Cesar Millan and the foundation he created. The Bingo Hein Legacy Fund will put 100 per cent of donations toward "the rescue, rehabilitation and re-homing of abused and abandoned dogs."

Millan phoned an appreciative Cole on Monday night to console him.

Cole said Millan told him "how he is proud of me... I have more strength and courage to help send Bingo to heaven because Cesar's dog, Daddy, is waiting for Bingo to play with him."

Mandi thanked the Free Press for helping Cole complete his lick-it list for Bingo with the final items on the weekend, including taking her on a public outing to Rucker's (now called Jackpots) and getting one last photo shoot with her. "We took 10 boxes of treats sent to Bingo to the veterinarian so they can give them to their dogs," she said.

Donations can be made at www.MillanFoundation.org or by mailing a cheque to the Cesar Millan Foundation -- Bingo Hein Legacy Fund, 10844 Burbank Blvd., North Hollywood, CA, 91601.

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

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Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 19, 2012 B1

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