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Tales of Awe: Dogs as Life Savers and Heroes

Have you ever thought of your dog as a life saver? The heroic nature of dogs inspires awe for good reason. Dogs save people by alerting them to fire and other dangers, or by pulling them to safety in all sorts of situations. A dog’s loyalty knows no bounds and we are the better for it.

When my kids were young we had a wonderful gentle giant of a dog named Orson, who was a Black Lab-Bouvier cross. I recall several “lifesaving” incidents with Orson. He once alerted me when my daughter, a toddler at the time, was straying too close to the road. He gently nudge d her back into the yard and the look in his eyes said it all; he was being a good babysitter. Years later, when a series of vicious sexual assaults was occurring in Guelph I knew we were safe with Orson; his bark was ferocious whenever a stranger came to the house, and he would protect us at all times. He was a hero.

I’m sure all dog owners have a few stories of heroism involving their dogs. At their most basic level, dogs are heroes simply by getting us to exercise more and making us happy. Okay sometimes they are annoying and naughty but this blog is about their heroism. So let’s look at some awesome, heroic dogs.

Trakr: This Canadian police dog helped dig through 30 feet of unstable debris at the World Trade Centre’s ‘ground zero’ to locate the last human survivor of the attack after 9/11 in New York City in 2001. After two days of constant searching he suffered smoke inhalation and exhaustion and burns. His DNA was chosen for cloning because of his heroics.

Frida: A Mexican disaster rescue dog, she has helped save 52 lives in various natural disasters around the world. Last September Frida was instrumental in locating and saving 12 children trapped in a school following an earthquake in Mexico.

Kanaka: A member of the Ontario Provincial Police K9 unit, Kanaka tracked a lost hunter for 20 hours across freezing swamps and an ice-covered lake before finding the man. The dog required medical attention afterwards but was commended for saving the man’s life. In a long career, Kanaka was involved in numerous rescues and recovery of evidence and stolen property.

Pat: A Black lab, Pat saved his owner’s life by towing him to safety with a rope attached to an oar less boat for three and a half hours in strong winds and rough water on the St. Lawrence River.

Grizzly: This aptly named Siberian Husky from Sault Ste. Marie once saved his owner from a vicious attack by a bear in the woods. For seven hours the dog fought against the bear’s attempts to reach the owner, who had climbed a tree to safety.

Belle: This Beagle literally bit 911 into her owner’s cellphone after the diabetic man collapsed from a seizure, saving his life. She was trained to detect abnormalities in blood-sugar levels and to bite 9 into a phone to summon 911. The dog was trained to periodically lick her owner’s nose to take a reading of his blood-sugar levels. If something is off, she will paw and whine at her owner. Her owner says she is never wrong.

Trixie: This small stray dog saved a three-year-old boy from drowning by seizing the child’s sweater after the child fell from a wharf on a lake in British Columbia. The dog held the child until help arrived to pull him to safety.

Bree: A dachshund, Bree is credited with saving her owner’s life numerous times by waking her in the middle of the night. At first the dog was thought to be engaging in bizarre nighttime behaviour, until the owner was diagnosed with a severe case of sleep apnea, which causes a person to stop breathing during sleep. Once Bree’s owner received treatment for her sleep apnea she was no longer woken by the dog during the night.

Koby: Rescued and trained by his owner, who endured bullying, depression and anxiety in high school, Koby was the first self-trained service dog to be allowed into a Canadian school. This program is now available to students across the country. Koby’s support has been a positive influence on his owner, who went on to enroll in university and publicly speak about her experiences.

There are so many examples of heroic dogs … and too many to mention here. To learn more, check out the Purina Animal Hall of Fame, which has recognized life-saving heroics of pets and service animals for the past 50 years in Canada.

Also, why not share your story of your own dog’s heroic behaviour? I’m sure there are many stories out there and other dog owners would love to hear them.

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