A 61 Year-Old Blind Man Will Be Able To Keep The Heroic Dog That Saved His Life, Thanks To The Internet

Today in “The Power Of The Internet Can Be Harnessed For Good Stuff, Too”: The heartwarming story of a blind man who fell off a New York subway station platform only to be saved by his heroically loyal guide dog will avoid having an unhappy ending.

Cecil Williams lost consciousness and fell off a subway platform on Tuesday. His guide dog, Orlando, “barked frantically and tried to stop Williams from tumbling off the platform,” according to witnesses that spoke with the AP. Orlando then leaped onto the tracks as a train approached and licked and nudged Williams in an attempt to move him. The loyal dog would not leave Williams’s side as an oncoming train came barreling down the tracks. The two were able to narrowly escape certain death by laying under the train as it passed.

But the moving story nearly had a less-than-satisfying ending, as Williams revealed he would be forced to put the dog that saved his life up for adoption in January. At 11 years old, Orlando is approaching the retirement age for a guide dog, and Cecil’s insurance will not cover the cost to care for the aging dog past the end of the year. Williams wanted to keep Orlando (who wouldn’t?) but simply would not be able to afford it without help from his insurance. He would be forced to replace his loyal companion of eight years with a younger guide dog.

Seeing a chance to help, a good Samaritan started a crowdfunding campaign on Wednesday, with a goal of raising $50,000 to help Williams. Some might say that’s an exorbitant amount to support a dog in its twilight years, but the Internet strongly disagrees: Generous backers quickly flooded the campaign with cash, donating more than $65,000 in less than 24 hours. Cecil will now be able to not only keep, but spoil the heroic dog that saved his life.

During a live press conference from his hospital bed, Williams expressed gratitude and relief that Orlando will get to enjoy his well-deserved retirement:

“I appreciate that people got together and they helped me to keep Orlando. … When I get the other dog, he will retire and be a pet. He’s been working for eight years straight, taking me through New York, Brooklyn, Manhattan, Queens and everywhere. It’s time for him to retire. He’s about 77 (dog) years old. He’s a senior citizen. He got gray hair. He’s looking forward to enjoying life now.”

He’s certainly earned it.

h/t AP + Today, Image via IndieGogo/AP