Amanda and Daines Tanner's dog jumped onto their bed a few months ago and pawed at their bodies while they were trying to sleep. It was around 5:30 a.m. on a Saturday - the one day each week the couple looked forward to sleeping in.
Amanda had never seen Axel, their 1-year-old border collie, so energetic that early. They guessed he needed to be let outside, so that morning in August, Daines walked him downstairs.
But when Daines opened the door to their backyard in Texas, Axel wouldn't go outside. He instead rushed toward Amanda's 17-year-old son's room downstairs and began clawing at the door.
Inside, Gabriel Silva was already awake. Minutes earlier, he was walking in the living room when he lost his balance and fell. He didn't know why he was feeling poorly, so he went back to his bedroom and got back in bed. Then he heard Axel at his door and Daines downstairs.
Gabriel followed Axel into the living room, where he began explaining his symptoms to Daines - he was struggling to walk, the right side of his body was numb, and his vision was magnified. But his stepfather could barely understand him; Gabriel's speech was slurred.
Daines drove Gabriel to an emergency room in Houston, where doctors determined that he was having a stroke.
Gabriel has since regained his ability to speak, walk and move his right arm, as the "Today" show first reported. Sabih Effendi, a neurosurgeon who treated Gabriel, said that he might have never recovered if Axel didn't wake up the family that morning.
"Without that early notification of him getting to the hospital, you really would have had really permanent deficits that would have made him really nonfunctional and unable to live life," Effendi told The Washington Post.
Gabriel, who plays goalkeeper for his high school's soccer team, said there were no warning signs before the stroke. On Aug. 25, he went to school and to soccer practice before he dressed in a black bow tie and jacket for his senior year pictures. He said he had a headache, but it later went away while he spent the night playing computer games at his Spring, Tex., home.
Gabriel said he went to sleep around midnight but woke up around 5 a.m. with a numb right arm. He doesn't remember why he left his bedroom downstairs, but as he was walking in the living room, he said, he lost his balance and fell on the tile. He said he couldn't move, and everything around him - a wraparound sofa, TV and fireplace - looked larger than usual. He also saw Axel, whom the family adopted from a dog rescue in July 2022.
Axel, who is named after the robotic dog from the 2018 movie "A-X-L," then ran upstairs to Amanda and Daines's room. Amanda, 44, said she heard something else making noise downstairs when Axel jumped onto their bed, but she guessed Gabriel was eating a snack in the kitchen.
About two minutes later, Gabriel said, he was able to walk back to his room to try to fall back asleep.
"I didn't think anything was wrong," he said.
Gabriel said he couldn't fall back asleep, so when he heard Axel outside his door and Daines downstairs, he walked back to the living room. Daines asked to hold his hands, but Gabriel couldn't flex his right hand.
They went upstairs, where Gabriel lay on his mom's bed. Gabriel said he was unable to speak to her, prompting him to cry.
While Amanda got ready to follow behind them, Daines took Gabriel to a Memorial Hermann Health System hospital in Houston around 6:30 a.m. A CT scan, MRI exam and angiogram showed Gabriel was suffering from a stroke on the left side of his brain, Effendi said.
A blood vessel connected to Gabriel's brain had torn, Effendi said, and the tear was preventing blood from flowing to that part of his brain. While about 795,000 people in the United States suffer strokes each year, Effendi said, only between 10 and 20 percent of those incidents occur in people under age 30.
Every minute during a stroke, neurons in the brain die because of a lack of blood, Effendi said. Some patients never fully recover, living the rest of their lives mute and in wheelchairs, he said. Initially, Effendi told Amanda that Gabriel might need 24/7 care for the rest of his life. Gabriel couldn't even tell doctors his name, Amanda said.
Amanda, who thought healthy teenagers couldn't have strokes, said she spent the rest of that day imagining life going forward. She thought she might have to quit her accounting job and learn how to take care of her son.
But Gabriel soon started physical, occupational and speech therapy and quickly made progress. He regained his ability to walk three days after he was admitted to the hospital.
By Sept. 4, Gabriel had regained mobility in his right arm and was typing on an iPad and playing his Nintendo Switch, Amanda said. Doctors say Gabriel's speech could be altered for the rest of his life, but his slurring had improved.
On Sept. 8, Gabriel was able to complete algebra problems on a laptop, Amanda said. Hospital workers sang to him when he went home the next day.
Gabriel said he still doesn't have much feeling on the right side of his body and has learned to write and eat with his left hand. He's attending therapy two days per week and taking blood thinners.
For now, Gabriel is being home-schooled but hopes to return to high school by the time soccer season starts in December. Next year, he intends to study engineering in college.
Effendi said Axel alerting his owners is one of the main reasons Gabriel's goals are possible.
"It's amazing how adamant a dog was knowing something's going on," Effendi said.
Amanda is planning to attach a medal to the front of Axel's collar to honor what he did for Gabriel.
Gabriel will face a heightened risk of suffering another stroke for the next few months, Effendi said. Axel might not know that, but Amanda said he isn't finished looking after her son. Since Gabriel returned home, Axel has been following him around the house and sleeping in his room, rarely leaving his side.