Know any Heroic Dogs, Cats or even Rats?

Boxer WikiCmns-Joel Mills

Boxer WikiCmns-Joel Mills

Have been looking at dog shelters and rescue centers of late – hoping to adopt another dog to replace loving Lucy who died six months ago. Discussions with dog experts and read-throughs of dog books got me thinking about the heroism demonstrated by man’s best friend. . . and other so-called lower animals.

                                 Poodle, Smile Train '13

Poodle, Smile Train ’13

Most owners would probably nominate their own dog as a hero. Just like the dedicated men and women who get hero awards for selfless service to others, most family pets match these heroes in steadfastness and loyalty. Certainly the elderly and others who count on therapy dogs to cheer them up would nominate their dogs. And so, too, might those lucky youngsters who learn to read by reading to dogs who don’t judge them when they make mistakes..

But, I guess I’m thinking of dogs that the media single out for truly heroic valor, like those who find missing children, assist police officers, or work in search and rescue, especially around collapsed buildings. I’ll never forget the afternoon my kids and I spent watching the Manchester Metropolitan Police in England train dogs to charge at gun wielding suspects, who are fortunately few and far between in that tightly gun-regulated country.

Know a heroic dog? Nominate him or her, and write a brief blurb.

Strange as it may seem, cats sometimes act courageous and heroic, too. Allen and Linda Anderson pass on stories about just such fury felines at They asked Tia Jenkins, a disabled twenty-seven-year old from Louisville, Kentucky to write about her heroic cat, Samantha.

  • [Tia said,] I suffer from depression and I have a medical condition that has left me with no side vision. This means I can only see the big “E” at the top of the eye chart. I also have seizures. They are complicated by the fact that if I were to hit my head, it would be fatal, because I’ve had four brain surgeries…
  • I noticed that [my cat ] brought me out of my depressed moods. She would make me laugh by playing fetch with me. I started to train her to bring items that I could not find due to my loss of sight and other disabilities. I trained her to alert me to people and dangers. Samantha also learned how to get help for me, if I went into a seizure…
  • [One day… I heard Samantha, standing at the kitchen door, making the sickest sounding meow. With what little sight I have, I saw a reflection of flames on the kitchen wall. A fire on the stove had caused the George Forman Grill to burst into flames….
  • Later, the firefighters told me that by the time the smoke detector sounded, the whole kitchen would have gone up in flames. If it had not been for Samantha’s warning and bravery, none of us would be here today.”

The Anderson’s note another amazing story—this time from a woman living in Alaska with her cat named KittyBaby.

  • After bears started passing through our neighborhood, KittyBaby quickly made himself invaluable. One night, as I prepared to go outside, KittyBaby firmly pushed me away from the door. He pressed hard against my leg, redirecting me to another area. The next morning, I discovered that a marauding bear had turned over and ransacked our garbage can during the night. This was the first time I realized that KittyBaby was protecting us from bears. On numerous other occasions, when KittyBaby sensed a bear nearby, he would stand between me and the cat flap on the door and growl as if he were a big dog!”

Ever know a heroic animal besides a dog or a cat? How about the horse in Spielberg’s epic 2011 movie “War Horse?”

Landmine rat Ars Technica

Landmine rat Ars Technica

This story about Giant-pouched African rats from Laurel Anne Hill (August 17, 2010 Huffington Post ) surprised me:

Landmine Rat WikiComns-Gooutside

Landmine Rat WikiComns-Gooutside

  • APOPO, a registered charity in Belgium and based in Tanzania, has trained these long-whiskered critters to sniff out unexploded land mines and save human lives. Working for rewards of banana slices and peanuts, ‘Hero Rats’ schooled in Tanzania have become amazingly proficient at smelling TNT on the job in Mozambique…”

And Acid Test wrote this based on an Ars Technica story:

  • [With more funding for APOPO, not] only would more lives be saved, hundreds of square miles of farmland could be returned to production if the explosives were cleared.
  • The rats can be trained for any work that requires a sensitive nose, such as TB scanning, as well as other diseases. Imagine it. Each health worker with her or his own little pet carrier.
  • The hardest part… has been getting people to fund work with rats.”

So, nominate your favorite hero from the animal kingdom.
I’ll lead off by nominating the pictured Boxer who persevered despite not getting professional help for his cleft lip like the little Poodle will.
You thought only hares and humans got “hare lips?”

To learn about CLEFT HEART: Chasing Normal, click the Amazon or Barnes & Noble buttons in the margins. Or click the image of the book cover. My coming-of-age memoir has intertwining love stories, mystery, tragedy, and triumph.

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