Canine heroes

We all need heroes, particularly during these trying COVID times. And the nice thing is heroes come in all shapes and sizes, including our furry friends.

Ask ten people what they think a hero is and you will likely get ten different answers. An heroic action can be very personal or it can be recognized as something special for the whole community. What is deemed heroic by humans will likely be seen by our dogs as something normal, as protecting or saving their owners is something built into their DNA.

Over the years there have been many stories of dogs performing heroic deeds, with no thought to their own welfare. I’d like to share some of these stories with you:

  • Brutis: Brutis was a 7 year old golden retriever that valiantly saved a young child from a venomous coral snake as it was slithering dangerously close to him. He quickly snatched up the snake and went away before the snake could get to the boy. As a result, Brutis suffered a near-deadly bite from the snake but eventually made a full recovery. 
  • Shana: An elderly couple, Eve and Norman Fertig, were taking care of animals on their sanctuary grounds when a freak snowstorm suddenly trapped them 200 feet away from home and in freezing temperatures. Luckily for them, Shana, their German Shepherd/ wolf cross, was there to save the day! With some determination, she dragged the couple through 200 feet of snow in order to get them back to warmth and safety. She even stayed around after the long crawl in order to keep the couple warm and safe before the firemen rescue team arrived.
  • Belle: Kevin Weaver was suffering from diabetes and had a trained beagle named Belle to assist him with many things like detecting his blood sugar level at all times. One day, he suddenly suffered from an intense seizure and collapsed. In an awe-inspiring moment, our canine hero quickly grabbed the nearest phone and bit down the numbers ‘911’. Due to her heroic actions, her owner was eventually rescued.
  • Eve: Katie Vaughn, a 41 year old paralyzed woman, had just begun to smell smoke in the car- obviously a very suspicious sign already. Soon enough, her intuitions were right as she detected smoke pouring out of the engine compartment. She tried assembling her foldable wheelchair in order to escape but the smoke eventually grew too strong, overwhelming her. Luckily, Eve, her Rottweiler, was there to rescue her! She quickly grabbed her by the leg and had managed to pull her out of the van before it caught fire and ultimately exploded! Luckily, they made it just in time and Mrs.Vaughn did not suffer from any injuries, although Eve suffered some burns on the pads of her paws as a result of her heroic deed. 

And to finish, I’d like to share with you one of my favourite stories of heroism, that of Roselle and her owner Michael Hingson: both heroes on the day in question.

Roselle was trained as a guide dog for the blind and lived with her owner, Michael Hingson, who had been blind from birth. Michael worked on the 78th floor of the North Tower in the World Trade Center (WTC) and showed up for work as usual on 9/11. Come the hour, after two highjacked planes crashed into the WTC, with the building a crumbling, towering inferno, Roselle calmly led her disoriented owner, and thirty other people, to safely by navigating their way from the 78th to the ground floor, via the stairway. 

Once safely on the ground, Roselle continued her service dog duties by getting her and Michael safely home via the train.

Truly remarkable feats of heroism shown by all these dogs. Is it any wonder that dogs are looked upon as “man’s best friend”!

About the author

Steve King

Steve King

Steve King was President and Founder of Community Therapy Dogs Society, a volunteer with Lions Foundation of Canada and a dog trainer.

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