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Local dog inducted into the Hall of Fame

Saving the life of his owner earned one beloved Jonesborough pet a spot in the Tennessee Animal Hall of Fame earlier this month.
Rowdy, a Decker Rat Terrier owned by Chester and Dorothy Allen of Overhill Drive, received the honor during the Tennessee Veterinary Medical Association’s annual conference in recognition of his determination, keen senses and unconditional love.
The heroic rescue took place in spring 2013 during a time Chester was taking a beta blocker for heart problems. One of the possible side effects was low blood sugar. “I was in my recliner and Rowdy came to me three times trying to get my attention,” Chester remembers. “I told him I was okay, but evidently I wasn’t.”
When he became unresponsive, Rowdy wasted no time in waking Dorothy who called 911. Chester had fallen into a diabetic coma with a blood glucose level of less than 20.
“They gave me a shot of glucose, and when I woke up I heard Rowdy barking. I asked, ‘Where’s Rowdy?’ They said, ‘We had to put him in the bathroom because he wouldn’t let anyone get close to you,’” Chester laughed. “He’s pretty protective of me.”
Rowdy has been a member of the family for three years. “He was one of a litter of Decker Rat Terriers my sister raised, and we got him as a pup,” Chester said. “He’s a good little fella, goes with me everywhere I go.”
Despite weighing only 29 pounds, Rowdy is all muscle and has no problem jumping into the bed of Chester’s pickup truck. “He also likes to hunt and will hit the pond just like a Labrador,” Chester said.
Any body of water will do when Rowdy gets overheated from racing around the property, including mud holes.
“I have a 100-gallon water trough that a downspout runs into, and Rowdy jumps in it five or six times a day during the summer,” Chester said.
The two spend a lot of time in Chester’s workshop behind his house where the former owner of Allen Machine Works has a number of different projects under way. Rowdy is content to lie under the stove in the shop when everything is quiet, but a noise will shift him into alert-mode. “Once he’s notified me someone is there, he’s ready to be petted,” Chester said. “I’ve never known him to bite. He likes everybody.”
Dr. Ed Cassell of Mountain Empire Large Animal Hospital in Johnson City nominated Rowdy for the Tennessee Animal Hall of Fame in honor of his goodwill, loyalty and bravery.
Chester wasn’t able to make the trip to Murfreesboro, so his sister Barbara drove Rowdy down to attend the awards ceremony where they enjoyed overnight accommodations on the fourth floor of Embassy Suites.
“She said they had to tie a knot in the ribbon of his medal so it wouldn’t touch the ground,” Chester said. “They also gave him a plaque.”
The attention and Hall of Fame induction hasn’t gone to Rowdy’s head, though. “All of that doesn’t mean anything more to him than a cheeseburger,” Chester insists. “But he is a star to me.”
Chester doesn’t remember Rowdy’s ever trying to rouse him before that night last spring, but the experience has had a lasting effect. “Rowdy’s been in the house ever since, and he’s gotten me up several times when my blood sugar was low,” he said. “I depend on him.”
TVMA filmed a video of Rowdy’s story which can be seen on YouTube or at TVMA2014Awards. By honoring his accomplishments, the TVMA hopes to heighten public awareness of the unique benefits of the human-animal relationship.