Kiro the Hero: Dog brings Oak Harbor senior back to life

Welcome Home Oak Harbor Senior Memory Care dog jumps to the rescue of a resident.

Chelsea McGuire, executive director of Welcome Home Oak Harbor Senior Memory Care, was called out of her office on Friday by the activities director, Katie Cook, when one of her residents started seizing.

McGuire promptly called 911 and took the pulse of her resident, Pam Castanera, as her 1-year-old Rhodesian ridgeback mix that she takes to work, Kiro, circled around her. Castanera’s pulse drummed quickly before bottoming out. Then, her eyes rolled back.

As Castanera flatlined, Kiro began nibbling on Castanera’s hand. Suddenly, life returned to her eyes.

She yelled out, “ohh,” and her pulse began again, McGuire said. Stranger yet, this repeated several times; Kiro brought her back over and over.

“Everybody was asking if he’s had some sort of training. He hasn’t,” McGuire said. “I thought it was a pretty epic event. He just knew what to do.”

Emergency services arrived and took Castanera to the hospital. She returned the same day, healthy again.

Kiro is a Macedonian name meaning “lord of the light.” According to McGuire, the dog saved her life too.

At about four months old, Kiro wandered up McGuire’s driveway with a chewed leash and scarred-up legs. It was clear to her that he’d been “terribly abused and traumatized,” so she took him in.

“He was so broken when I found him, well, when he found me,” she said, “and I’ve worked with him and given him love.”

Residents have lit up since McGuire started bringing Kiro to the assisted care center, she said. Many of them struggle with dementia, and he brings smiles every five minutes, because they don’t remember seeing him before.

“He just changes the whole atmosphere of the facility,” she said. “I can’t say I’m surprised at what he did, but it definitely is profound.”

Welcome Home Oak Harbor has changed significantly since McGuire took over as executive director, she said, and she credits that to the special, intimate interactions like what happened Friday. The entire crew works hard and has their heads in the right place.

“My staff is freaking amazing. I know I have good energy,” she said. “It went from assisted dying to assisted living, honestly.”

Kiro enjoys all the attention and love he gets from the residents. He seems to know just who needs the love most, she said.

“He’s just super friendly, but obviously he has gifts that I wasn’t even aware of,” she said. “I felt like he saved my life because I’ve suffered from loneliness, and he’s there, and I see what he does for the residents on a daily basis.”

Welcome Home Oak Harbor Executive Director Chelsea McGuire brings her dog, Kiro, to the assisted living facility daily. (Photo provided)

Welcome Home Oak Harbor Executive Director Chelsea McGuire brings her dog, Kiro, to the assisted living facility daily. (Photo provided)