Little Neck dog alerts woman to injured mother

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A vocal pup may have saved a Little Neck woman’s life by making a ruckus after the 89-year-old fell face-down in her garden, the woman’s daughter and neighbors said.

Tina DiLuca, of Glenwood Street in Little Neck, fell face-first into her garden during Friday’s 90-degree weather and could not get back onto her feet, said Maria DiLuca, her daughter. The 89-year-old woman is recovering from four fractured ribs and a few abrasions at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, L.I.

Maria DiLuca, who lives at the Glenwood Street home with her mother, said she peeked out the window and noticed her mother lying face down after her neighbor’s dog, Max, a 98-pound Labrador retriever, began barking louder than usual.

“We live next door to Max and we’re used to hearing him bark,” she said. “But he didn’t sound right. I looked out the window and I saw my mother laying there. She’s lucky she fell in the dirt and not the concrete.”

Maria DiLuca and neighbor Christine Szap gave water to DiLuca’s mother and then took her to the hospital.

Tina DiLuca is currently undergoing rehabilitation at North Shore and will probably be kept in the hospital for a few weeks, her daughter said. She did not require any surgery following the incident.

Dr. Michael Szap, Max’s owner, said Tina DiLuca would have been out of view from any passers-by because there is a chain link fence around her property.

“Max must have heard her groaning,” he said. “There was a horrendous barking, which alerted my wife.”

He said his neighbor had tripped over a piece of concrete and fallen into her garden.

“It was almost 90-degree weather,” said Szap, who is a doctor. “Had she been laying there any longer, she might not have made it. On a 90-degree day, even a healthy person can dehydrate.”

Szap said Max often lies under the shaded evergreens near a wooded fence on his property, watching the street.

“He’s a big dog,” Maria DiLuca said. “He watches over both our houses.”

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

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