By Jack Fichter
CAPE MAY — He is named for an Egyptian Pharaoh, stands only inches off the ground, has more than a passing interest in cookies and he saved the life of Marilyn Pharo.
A Cardigan-Corgi dog by the name of King Tut was in the spotlight when a television crew producing a segment for Animal Planet visited Cape May on May 11. The four-person crew set up at the Cape May Carriage Company stop where Pharo works, near the corner of Ocean and Washington streets.
King Tut posed for the camera and received lots of petting from a class of students from Our Lady Star of the Sea School.
The brown and white dog saved Pharo’s life on more than one occasion.
“I noticed he was always touching my knee with his nose and licking me,” she said. “I thought it was because they are a herding breed.”
The night of her first life threatening, diabetic incident, Pharo’s husband was away working in Chile. She has a bed that is too high for King Tut to jump up on with his short Corgi legs but that night she placed the dog on the bed.
Pharo had just received an insulin pump that was not regulated corrected. She fell into a very deep sleep.
“I was dreaming I was dying, it was actually very soft and black and warm and I felt very comfortable and I thought ‘I can do this, I can die, this is fine,’” she said. “The next thing I knew I had paws on my shoulders, whining, licking my nose, little nibbles on my nose.”
Pharo said she awakened believing King Tut was asking to go outside.
“I stood up and I nearly went to the ground because I was so hypoglycemic,” she said.
Pharo made it to the kitchen, hanging on to the furniture and poured herself some juice and waited for her blood sugar level to rise. King Tut kept pacing the floor and whining.
She told the dog he would have to wait to go outside until she felt better. King Tut did not want to go outside.
A second incident occurred two weeks later. Pharo was sound asleep and King Tut, who was on the floor of her bedroom, grabbed her hand and whined. She stood up and once again found herself hypoglycemic.
“I began to wonder if this was coincidence,” said Pharo. “I went to my family doctor and mentioned it to him.”
The doctor said when her blood sugar was that low, 25 in one instance and 20 in another, she would throw off ketones from her skin which would make her smell and taste different. The doctor said King Tut apparently knew how Pharo should taste and smell and detected something was not normal and became anxious.
“I would have died, I would not be here,” she said. “I would have slipped into a coma and been gone.”
Her husband noted even if he had been home and had been sleeping beside her, he would not have been aware of her hypoglycemia.
“I just feel like God brought this dog to me,” said Pharo. “He is amazing.”
King Tut goes to work with Pharo, lying at her feet at the carriage stop where she works as a shift manager four mornings per week. The dog has traveled to Disney World and “fancy hotels.”
She said King Tut is welcomed everywhere as a certified service dog. Her husband noticed the dog doesn’t sleep at night and checks her well being throughout the night.
“If he can’t reach me from standing on the ground, he’s up on the side of the bed until he can reach me and checks me,” said Pharo. “I’m not even aware of it, I’m asleep.”
Pharo wrote a letter to nominate King Tut for an award from Animal Planet. Pharo and King Tut will appear on a television segment of Dogs 101 where he will be the featured dog on a program about Cardigan Corgis.
As part of his television appearance, King Tut received a horse-drawn carriage ride, something Pharo said he enjoys.