2013 was chock full of heroic dogs who saved the lives of their owners, strangers and other animals. We read stories every day of dogs who alert their families to fires, and detect cancer in loved ones. While those dogs are certainly heroes, here are many others who performed heroic acts this year.
A German shepherd named Sasha jumped in a pool in Argentina to save a four-year-old girl that had gotten out of her home and wandered into a neighbor’s yard. Sasha alerted her parents, then jumped in the pool and held her up until she could be pulled out.
Tom Beradinelli, 70, was out walking his boxer, Maggie, when he slipped on some ice and smashed his head on the ground. Maggie ran to a neighbor’s house and jumped at the door until someone came to see what was wrong. Tom was found and taken to a hospital and treated for his brain hemorrhage and major head trauma.
Louie the goldendoodle saved the life of Janelle Gianetta and her unborn baby when he alerted her husband, Richard, to some trouble. The man went to check on his wife, and found that she was seizing and foaming at the mouth. She was able to be rushed to the hospital in time to save her from eclampsia, and have her baby delivered via emergency C-section.
Lucy was injured when she and her owner were struck by a speeding driver, but that didn’t stop her from limping to a nearby dentist’s office and barking until she got someone’s attention. She then went back to unconscious owner John Miles’ side, and refused to leave him, even when the ambulance came. Lucy and John both got much-needed medical attention and are now recovering.
Cecil Williams, a visually impaired man, was waiting on a subway platform in Harlem when he began to feel faint. His guide dog, Orlando, barked to alert others, and tried to keep the man standing, but both toppled onto the tracks. A metro employee rushed over and instructed them to lie down between the rails, as a train was coming and there was no time to pull the two up. They both survived, and Williams credited Orlando with saving his life. He was afraid he might have to give the dog up when he retires at age 11 next year, but people were so touched by the story that enough donations piled up for the man and his dog to stay together.
Todd Jurek, a training supervisor for Guide Dogs for the Blind, was walking with apprentice instructor Danielle Alvarado and 18-month-old yellow Labrador retriever, O’Neil. Alvarado was blindfolded to allow Jurek to assess O’Neil’s skills as a guide dog. He proved them when he jerked his head around to see a backwards-moving car barreling straight at them. All three managed to move out of the way just in time.
Nestor Salazar was out for a walk with his pit bull Goofy on a freezing cold night, when suddenly the dog dragged him off the trail. Goofy had discovered a pit bull puppy at the bottom of a creek bed. His front legs had been broken and his snout wired shut. Nestor brought the puppy home, clipped the wire, and bathed and fed him. After getting him medical care, he later adopted the pup.
A woman was at a beach in Turkey with her baby and dog. While she was playing fetch, the baby began crawling toward the sea. Before it could be swept away by the quick-moving waves, the dog lied down in the baby’s path. The mother rushed over and scooped her adventurous kid up. The dog was clearly the hero of the day, but as for the person who filmed the event…
Jessica Cowley was out for a walk with her one-year-old baby, Jacob, and her guide dog, Jet. As they were crossing a road, an out-of-control car struck Jessica and sent her flying. Before Jacob’s stroller could be hit, Jet pushed it out of the way, saving the baby’s life.
An unwanted Argentinian dog, given to a stranger, came to the defense of his former family’s daughters, when the stranger who had just been given him came back to rape the girls. The dog bit the abuser several times on the legs, causing him to stop what he was doing and flee. Neighbors heard the girls’ screams, and called police. Though the mother still did not want the dog (what??), it was later rescued and adopted.
Siblings Emily and Sam Lewis were walking their Dobermans, Star and Storm, when the dogs stopped dead in their tracks. They heard something their humans could not. Sam and Emily followed their dogs’ lead, and let the dogs drag them to the scene of an accident on a small, seldom-used road. A woman lay trapped in her car with a serious back injury, and might have lain there for many hours had Storm and Star not been so persistent.
A woman driving angry was in a bad accident that left her car too far off the road for others to see. While fading in and out of consciousness, a stray dog came to Shannon Lorio’s rescue and dragged her all the way to the road, where she was able to flag down a driver. The dog was named Hero, and went on to be adopted and trained by canine search and rescue trainer, Heidi Drawdy.
A homeless dog did some saving and got some saving when she attacked one of the men who opened fire on a group of people in Miami. While one person was killed and another injured, it is believed that far more would have died had it not been for the heroic actions of Princess Coco (Wing), as neighbors like to call her. Sgt. Garret Wing took her in to an emergency clinic and fostered her while she recovered.
Though it happened in 2001, the story became popular in 2013: Genelle Guzman-McMillan was in one of the World Trade Center Buildings when it collapsed. She spent 27 hours trapped beneath the rubble, and was the last living person to be pulled from the wreckage. It was not a firefighter who found her, but a search and rescue dog. Her story was one of many that prompted a documentary to be done about the heroic dogs of 9/11.
When four males broke into a woman’s Edmonton, Alberta apartment and attacked her with a machete, her pit bull Mercey jumped in front of her and saved her life. Mercey was rushed to a vet, where 20 police officers chipped in to pay for the cost of her life-saving surgery.
Retired engineer Roger Wilday was walking his dog Jade around in Birmingham, England when the dog came across an abandoned baby. She got Roger’s attention, who contacted officials immediately. Baby Jade, named after her hero, still had her umbilical cord attached, and was believed to have only been a few hours old. Because of the German shepherd, the baby is expected to make a full recovery.
While Elle (pronounced Ellie) didn’t actually save a life, hers was one of our most popular stories of the year, and worthy of additional recognition. She is a well-known therapy dog – a rescue – that helps teach kids how to read, as well as learn about dog safety and overcoming prejudice and stereotypes, something many pit bulls face. The fact that she’s a pit bull had nothing to do with her being awarded, but it does help shine a positive light on an outstanding breed that gets a lot of negative press because of the actions of bad owners. Ask anyone who volunteers at a (bully) shelter, and they’ll tell you that the adjectives they use most to describe these dogs are wiggly and snuggly. Dogs like Elle help people look beyond stereotypes and save the lives of death-row pit bulls, and that makes her a hero.
A dog named Chako stepped in front of his owner, who was being badly abused by her partner. He was stabbed 12 times, but when people found out what happened, they donated every cent needed to cover his care. This was a Life With Dogs exclusive story, and since we don’t have reporters that work out in the field, not much else could be found out about this story, except that Chako has since recovered.
Banzé, or Scamp, heard the cries of kittens coming from a box on a trash pile in a neighborhood in São Paulo, Brazil. He gingerly tore the box apart, and like a true mother, carried them one by one to his new home. As a dog that once fended for himself on the streets, Banzé knew how it felt to have no one care about him. He paid forward the good deed of his owner’s adoption of him, and saved those kittens from what might have been a slow and agonizing death.
Benjamin and Hope Jordan suspected something was wrong when their dog began behaving suspiciously around their babysitter of five months. They couldn’t prove anything, and decided to leave an iPhone under the couch to record the goings-on in their home while only Alexis Khan and the dog were there with their baby, Finn. What they heard was astounding – Khan was swearing at and slapping their toddler around. She is now in prison and will be on a child abuse registry for life, thanks to the family dog.