VENTURA (CBSLA.com) — A man is in a Ventura County hospital thankful to be alive.
And he's grateful not only to his doctors - but to his dog.
KCAL9's Jeff Nguyen reports 48-year-old Tim Mullen says his Golden Retriever, Garth, helped him to escape his latest brush with death Monday night when he was alone at a relative's home.
"He's an angel. He's sent down from heaven," the Arizona resident said, revealing,"When the first responders showed up I wasn't breathing."
That could've been fatal had it not been for Garth.
The three-year-old pooch is trained to hit a button on an electronic bracelet when Mullen suffers an epileptic seizure - a condition he's battled since the age of 12.
Mullen's fiancée, Shauna Meyers, says the pair went through a training process together in Arizona and bonded almost immediately.
"It's usually six months they say approximately," she said of the process. "Tim and Garth, I would say within a week-and-a-half, started bonding. Within three weeks the bond was complete."
That bond paid off on Monday night for the first time.
Garth picks up on Mullen's seizures because of the scents in his body.
Thanks to Garth, paramedics were alerted to Mullen's seizure and were able to transport him to Los Robles Hospital in Thousand Oaks in time. He woke up with Garth by his side.
"I started crying," Mullen said. "She told me, 'Garth saved you.' I know Garth saved me."
The cost for a service dog like Garth is nearly $22,000, which isn't covered by all insurance policies.
In Mullen's case, Medicare doesn't cover the cost. He's thankful for the thousands of dollars of donations that came in after the company that trains dogs like Garth created a video about Mullen's story that went viral.
"I'm scared of my seizures. I've been too close to death too many times this last year. And I think there's other reasons for me to be here," he said.
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