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Front Page Of Long Island Newsday
May 16, 2002

Pam Sica had left her 3-week-old baby on the bed for just a moment when her golden retriever started to bark.

The new mother, who was warming up a bottle in the kitchen, asked the pooch if he wanted to go outside.  But tired old Bullet just bounced on his front legs and continued to bark.

When Sica headed next into the bathroom to say something to her showering husband, Bullet really went wild.  He started running back and forth from Sica to the room where little Troy Joseph was sleeping.

When Sica then followed Bullet into her son's room, what she saw stunned her.  The 8-pound infant was blue, his head was thrown back, and a terrible gurgling sound was coming from his throat.

Sica screamed for her husband, who shot out of the shower and immediately began CPR on the baby - something he remembered from an educational film he'd seen in high school.  She also called 911, and within minutes, an ambulance had arrived.

“The paramedics told us that, if we had found Troy 10 seconds later, something terrible could have happened,” Sica said.  “Bullet saved his life.”

Troy was rushed to Brookhaven Memorial Hospital in Patchogue, where he was stabilized.  He was then transferred to Stony Brook University Hospital in Stony Brook, where he was diagnosed with pneumonia in both lungs.

He was released from the hospital yesterday after a two-week stay.

“A few seconds could have made a huge difference,” said Paolo Coppola, who heads the Emergency Department at Brookhaven Memorial, adding that major brain damage can occur in just four minutes.  “The longer the baby goes without air, the more dangerous it is.”

If fate hadn't taken a couple of wild turns in the past two years, neither Troy nor Bullet would have been in the Sica's Bellport home on the May night when the emergency happened.

When Pam Sica got pregnant last year, she and her husband Troy Sr. had long given up their 10-year struggle to have a child.  She is 43, and had a complicated pregnancy, but when Troy was delivered healthy on April 10, they called it a perfect miracle.

Likewise, Bullet, who is ancient by retriever standards, almost didn't make it to May.  Two years ago he got a tumor on his liver, and the vet advised Sica to euthanize him.

“He said, why would you go into debt to save a 13-year-old dog?  He's going to die soon anyway!” Sica said.

Still, Sica took out a $5,000 loan to remove Bullet's tumor.  She now believes that decision saved her son's life.

Dogs are often able to detect changes in a room that people don't notice because they rely on their keen senses, not just their intellect, said Ralph Fuellbier, the trainer for the Suffolk County Police K-9 Unit.

“The dog was probably used to baby's normal behavior,” said Fuellbier.  “When the baby stopped breathing, the dog probably noticed something was different and started whining and barking.”

It is because dogs are so perceptive that people use them as guards to listen for unusual noises, and police use them to sniff for drugs and bombs, Fuellbier said.

Only this year, a golden Labrador retriever in Toronto was credited with digging out a man buried in an avalanche, and a German shepherd in Florida saved its family in a house fire.  Heroic dogs even went Hollywood in February when Drew Barrymore's dog Flossie saved the actress and her then-fiance Tom Green from a house fire.

Sica, who honored Bullet with a steak dinner yesterday, says she's just glad her hero dog was there when she needed him.

“Bullet has always been my baby,” Sica said.  “Now he's saved my little boy.”
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