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Ellabell man authors Chicken Soup story
Sonny Cohrs
Sonny and Brandy Cohrs with their dog, Porter, and a copy of "Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Very Good, Very Bad Dog." - photo by Ted O'Neil

Sonny Cohrs and his wife, Brandy, like to joke that Porter, their chocolate Lab, “Found us, we didn’t find him.”

They’re glad he did.

They were living in Lakeland while Sonny was stationed at Moody Air Force Base when the dog wandered into their garage during an ice storm in late 2012.

“I came home early from the base because of the weather and didn’t want to kick him out,” Sonny recalled.

Two weeks later, Brandy, who has lupus and epilepsy, had a seizure.

“He kept circling the recliner I was sitting in,” she said. “It was Porter telling me he was not leaving my side.”

One night in December 2014, Brandy had a particularly bad seizure.

“I knew something was wrong because he wasn’t supposed to be on the bed,” Sonny said. “He was pawing at us and licking us.”

When Sonny was able to rouse Brandy, she had a fever of 105 degrees. They rushed to the emergency room, and an electroencephalogram showed she had had at least 10 seizures in three days, most of them at night.

After doing research, Sonny found out that about 15 percent of service dogs, such as Labs, have an innate ability to detect seizures before they occur. Such dogs will often paw or bark at their owners as a way to forewarn them.

After that episode, Sonny, who spent 20 years in public affairs with the Air Force, wrote about it on Facebook and received a lot of feedback. While stationed in Qatar, he saw something online about submitting stories to the “Chicken Soup for the Soul” publishers and wrote a longer piece about the family’s experience with Porter.

“Chicken Soup for the Soul: My Very Good Dog, Very Bad Dog” came out earlier this year, and all royalties will go to the American Humane Association. The title of his chapter is “Our Rescue Dog Rescues My Wife.”

As for Porter, named after one of Sonny’s favorite beers, he’s both the family pet and Brandy’s constant companion.

“After we found him, we tried to find the owner through fliers and social media posts,” Sonny said. “The vet determined he was about a year old at the time, and he already knew commands like sit, lay and roll over.”

After retiring from the Air Force, Sonny and Brandy moved with their three children to Ellabell to be near her family. He’s currently the public information coordinator for the Savannah-Chatham Metropolitan Police Department.

“It’s comforting to know that while I’m at work and the kids are at school that Porter is at home with Brandy,” he said. “I tell people that we didn’t adopt him, he adopted us.”

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