Saline’s Dog About Town: Sir Griswald, Guardian of the Heart & Honorary Knight


Tom Payeur and Griswald, 4th Degree Knights of Columbus. Photo by Carleen Nelson Nesvig.

By Carleen Nelson Nesvig, STN Writer

Even though he is relatively new to Saline, you may have already spotted Sir Griswald, the heart-monitoring Golden Retriever, charming residents.

Sir Griswald is a three-year-old Golden Retriever. He lives with Tom Payeur, 4th
Degree Knight of Columbus. His job is to detect heart rhythm and notify his owner/companion/handler that there is an impending health issue.

According to Tom, Griswald’s real job is to simply be eye candy for his audience.

Though Tom and Griswald have only been together since Veterans Day a year ago, Tom says, ” I feel like I have had him my entire life. He rides shotgun in the car, sleeps in my bed, loves to play with other dogs, follows all the commands: sit, stay, down, stop and wait. Wait is really important for air travel.”

Cardiac dogs are likely to use their strong sense of smell to recognize chemical alterations that occur when the blood pressure or the heart rate changes. They may be able to use their strong hearing skills to recognize whether the heart rate is normal or not.

Service dogs like Griswald are on high alert and immediate response. There is a difference between Alert and Response tasks. Alerting to an oncoming event in the context of service dog training means that Sir Griswald has been trained to recognize oncoming episodes, which can include anxiety and panic attacks, increased/decreased blood sugar levels, irregular heart rates, migraines, seizures...etc. Once Sir Griswald recognizes the oncoming episode, he alerts Tom/companion/handler to it by exhibiting a specific behavior.

Response tasks, on the other hand, are related to types of behaviors that a service dog displays as a response to the symptoms of a disability. Simply put- alert tasks are performed prior to the event occurring, while response tasks are performed after that.

Tom shares that Griswald is also unofficially a 4th Degree Knight of Columbus. The 4th Degree designation is the highest degree of the order. It is an extension of the third degree. Members of this degree are addressed as "Sir Knight". The primary purpose of the Fourth Degree is to foster the spirit of patriotism, but for Griswald that simply means he can attend all the Knights of Columbus events, parades, and fish fry’s, which allows him to do meet and greats with his fans.

Does Griswald have Fans? You bet. According to Tom, since Griswald first entered Saline events, he has been a hit. He loves his rubber bone and ball and “he is a great snuggler.” With Tom’s permission folks are encouraged to stop over, pat Griswald on the head and tell him what a charmer he is. He may also let you give him a hug.

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