Beloved canines who did more than save the day.
Heroes come in different shapes and sizes—and species. While cats, horses and even parrots have performed acts that have saved lives, dogs hold the record for the most acts of heroism in the animal kingdom. Here are just a few canine heroes.
A rescued Dachshund named Duke saved the life of his infant “sister,” Harper Brousseau, in 2012, in Portland, Conn. The little girl’s parents woke up one night with Duke jumping on the bed, shaking violently. The Brousseaus had never seen him act this way and knew something was wrong in the house. They ran into the baby’s room and found that Harper wasn’t breathing. They called 911 and paramedics revived the baby before taking her to the hospital, where she made a full recover. Harper’s parents credit Duke with saving their daughter’s life.
All search and rescue dogs are heroes, but some stand out among the rest. One of these dogs is John D, a rescue Border Collie who is capable of detecting ovarian cancer in humans, as well as recovering victims of drowning and natural disasters. In 2013, John D became part of the Ovarian Cancer Detection Study at University of Arkansas for Medical Science, and was trained to detect cancer in urine samples. For his work, he was named the American Humane Association 2013 Hero Dog of the Year.
Xena the Warrior Puppy
Some dogs are heroes in small ways. Such as Xena the Warrior Puppy, who nearly died before going on to become a miracle worker to a little boy with autism.
Xena was brought into a Dekalb, Ga., animal shelter by a good Samaritan in 2013 after collapsing in a front yard. It appeared she had been locked in a cage without food or water for a long time. She was near death.
With vet care and nursing by a shelter employee, Xena recovered and was placed up for adoption. When the mother of an autistic boy named Jonny saw Xena’s picture online, she fell in love with her.
Jonny’s autism left him uncommunicative. However, that all changed the day the family adopted Xena. Jonny bonded instantly with Xena, and the two became inseparable. The once silent boy became interactive and chatty. His parents credit Xena with this miracle.
In May 2011, when Navy SEAL Team Six raided the compound of Osama bin Laden, they did so with the help of a Belgian Malinois named Cairo. Cairo’s job was to assist the SEALs by sniffing for explosives, searching for false walls or hidden doors, and keeping people in the neighborhood from coming close to the compound.
A few days after the successful raid, President Obama met with the members of SEAL Team Six. The team included Cairo, who received presidential congratulations for a job well done.
In March 2014, a German Shepherd named Bruno and his human partner, Anaheim Police Department Officer R.J. Young, responded to a call of a man firing on probation officers. Bruno found the shooter hiding in a trashcan. When Bruno lifted the lid of the can, the man started shooting. Bruno was struck in the face. Police fatally wounded the shooter, and Bruno was rushed to the hospital.
After numerous surgeries to repair his jaw over a two-year period, Bruno was eventually euthanized in May 2016 due to complications from his injuries. He is remembered by the City of Anaheim, Calif., as a canine hero who protected the lives of the city’s human officers.
About the Author: Audrey Pavia is an award-winning freelance writer and author of “The Labrador Retriever Handbook.” She is a former staff editor of Dog Fancy, Dog World and The AKC Gazette magazines. To learn more about her work, visit www.audreypavia.com and hollywoodhoofbeats.net/