Dogs have long been known and considered to be man’s best friend. Despite the endless supply of drool and comically infuriating shenanigans, their easygoing nature and tremendous loyalty place them above and beyond any other pet (sorry, cat lovers). Dog owners put immense faith in their pets that would normally be considered crazy. When was the last time you put faith in a rattlesnake to play fetch? Have you ever tried playing fetch with a cat? Chances are that you, like the rest of us, are still waiting on the cat to give you the time of day!
Simply put: dogs are awesome. The care and compassion that they feel makes it no surprise that these kind companions are often lifesavers who go above and beyond the call of duty to ensure the safety and well-being of their owners. Don’t believe us? We found 10 incredibly loyal dogs who saved their owners’ lives.
From fending off dangerous attackers to calling 911, these dogs have been awarded for their heroism. Who are these brave canines and where did they come from? Take a look at our list of these inspiring furry four-legged heroes who might just motivate you to take a trip to the local shelter to adopt a hero of your own.
#10 – Brutis
Golden Retrievers are known for fetching or retrieving (pun intended!) just about anything. Seven year old Brutis, a beautiful golden retriever, lived up to his name in 2003 when he saved the lives of children playing nearby. With keen intuition, Brutis grabbed a deadly coral snake coiled up to strike as children played on a nearby swing set in Hudson, Florida. Brutis held the snake in his mouth for several minutes, suffering a venomous bite while refusing to let go, until the children’s grandmother noticed.
Once seen, the grandmother alerted the children’s grandfather who carefully grabbed the snake from Brutis’ mouth. They rushed Brutis to the vet to get treatment for the bite where he was saved with one of the few remaining antivenoms in the entire clinic. Brutis was later flown to Los Angeles where he was awarded for his heroic act. Brutis truly shows us that being loyal can sometimes be a real pain but, the reward is always worthwhile especially when it means a lifetime of dog bones.
#9 – Jake
Since the turn of the new millennium, there have been multiple tragedies across America, two of which stand out in the minds and hearts of Americans: the attacks of September 11th and Hurricane Katrina. In times of tragedy, support workers and crews can easily be found digging through the rubble. But, during both the September 11th attacks and Hurricane Katrina, only one dog came to the rescue.
Meet Jake, a black Labrador retriever who diligently dug through the rubble of the World Trade Centers in search of survivors. When Katrina struck in the Gulf, once again, Jake was flown all the way from Utah down to the banks of the Mississippi where he lent his paws.
Discovered abandoned by Mary Flood, Jake was 10 months old at the time and needed desperate care as he suffered from a broken leg. Despite great odds, Flood trained Jake to be a service dog because of his physical build and determination to survive.
Jake became one of the best service dogs in history and received a warm hero’s welcome after both disaster relief efforts. Jake passed away from cancer in 2007 but was able to take one last walk through his favorite field beforehand; a truly noble end for a heroic and noble friend.
#8 – Maya
Let’s be honest: most of our drooling, tail chasing dogs will never earn the title of Dog of the Year. But, in 2008, everything changed for Angela Marcelino and her dog, Maya.
Marcelino was outside of her home early one morning when a man came up from behind and pushed her back into the house, slamming the door shut behind them. The man started to choke Marcelino just as she was able to let out an ear-piercing scream for help. Maya started to attack the man and drew blood, a drop of which was later collected and used for evidence, leading to his arrest.
Maya, a five year old 25 pound Pit Bull, earned the Dog of the Year award for her courageous act of protecting her owner. Without her efforts in stopping the attacker, the man may have never been caught and charged. Despite being small in size, Maya’s heart prevailed as she saved Marcelino from harm. Adopted in San Jose at just three months old, this adoption proved to be lucky for both Maya and Angela.
#7 – Honey
We just met Maya, the Pit Bull who earned the 2008 Dog of the Year Award. Now, meet Honey, a five month old English Cocker Spaniel who earned the 2006 Dog of the Year award for her courageous act.
Honey was riding alongside her owner, Michael Bosch, when Michael’s SUV rolled over and left them stuck upside down in a nearby ravine. Bosch was unable to get out of the car due to his injuries but managed to unbuckle Honey in the hopes that she could get out of the SUV and find help nearby. Honey did exactly that.
Honey frantically raced down the road to find help for her beloved owner. She traveled an entire half mile before she could get someone’s attention to help. With the attention of the stranger, she led the man to the scene of the accident where he was able to call for help. Thanks to Honey’s loyalty and determination, a rescue team extracted Bosch from the car, saving his life. This goes to show that loyalty, dedication and heart truly come in the smallest of packages.
#6 – Buddy
German Shepherds are incredibly capable dogs who are considered to be the top of the line when it comes to tracking, which is why they are so commonly used in the police force. Though dogs are rarely seen or used in firefighting, Buddy, the German Shepherd, made history when he rose to the challenge and transcended the dog world in 2010. At the time, Buddy’s owner, Ben Heinrichs, accidentally caught himself on fire while working in the shop when he yelled out, “Buddy, we need to get help!”
Without hesitation, Buddy sprinted off into the night and ran until he found a police car. Heinrichs had already called the emergency into a police station but the station’s navigation system had frozen due to a technical glitch. Buddy found Alaska State Trooper Terrence Shanigan who followed the dog on a hunch to the home to Heinrichs where, thankfully, the fire had already been put out before it reached the actual house structure. Because of his heroism, Buddy was given a silver-plated bowl. Talk about eating in style!
#5 – Shelby
The second German Shepherd on our list, Shelby is also a canine hero who calls Ely, Iowa home. Over the holidays, Shelby’s family welcomed many visitors into their home for fun-filled activities like baking cookies and decorating. During one visit with family, John and Janet’s two children kept complaining that they could not sleep because of horrible headaches and upset stomachs. But, John and Janet brushed the children’s complaints aside as excitement for the holiday and too many cookies.
After putting Shelby outside for the night, John and Janet soon passed out. Shelby sensed that something was wrong and forced her way back inside the home, diligently trying to wake her owners by making continuous noise. Because of Shelby’s keen sense, high levels of carbon monoxide were detected in the home, giving John and Janet enough time to get the children outside and way from further danger. The family was treated at the local hospital and a home inspection proved that there were lethal amounts of carbon monoxide in the air. This goes to prove that a dog’s nose knows best!
#4 – Blue
It seems like some dogs are not afraid of anything, which makes them extremely good at protecting their owners from dangers of the outside world. Blue, a two year old Australian Blue Heeler, is another unshakeable dog whose heroic act earned her the title of the 47th Dog Hero of the Year in 2002. But what exactly happened to earn Blue this title?
Blue was living in LaBelle, Florida with her 85 year old owner, Ruth Gay when, one night during their stroll around the canal, Ruth slipped and fell, breaking her nose and dislocating her shoulder! Ruth called for help, causing Blue to suddenly run off in a frenzy to find help. Ruth’s movement and yells had attracted the wrong kind of a help when a nearby alligator suddenly caught her scent. With keen instinct, Blue somehow knew of the danger as she came back to Ruth’s side to keep the alligator at bay. After barking and fighting head to head with the gator, it finally retreated back to the canal. Blue kept diligent watch over Ruth’s side until family arrived home and noticed them missing. See you later, alligator!
#3 – Neo
Siberian Huskies are beautiful dogs who are popular for their wonderful ability to traverse through the harsh elements of bitterly cold conditions, making exquisite dog sled teams led be fearless pack leaders. True to his breed, Neo, an 11-month old husky owned by Marci Snead showed epic greatness when he saved his owner’s life.
Suffering from fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and diabetes, Marci Snead loved Neo’s companionship. With difficulty in managing her diabetes at times, Snead went into hypoglycemic shock due to diabetic complications. Neo immediately knew that something was wrong with his beloved owner. He bolted from the house and to the nearest building where he barked endlessly for help. With the attention of a few residents, Neo led them to Snead, who was found lying on the floor. Paramedics soon came and took Snead to the hospital where she fully recovered. Needless to say, Neo really was the one after all.
#2 – Kankuntu
Like we said before, some dogs truly aren’t afraid of anything and will do literally anything for their owners. Kankuntu did the unspeakable when he took a bullet for his owner, Peter Lee, a 61-year old businessman from England. Lee was sailing around the Caribbean with his wife and Kankuntu on his 41-foot yacht when he was approached by pirates (no, not Captain Jack Sparrow). Lee attempted to ram their boat but, as soon as the boats met, the pirates jumped aboard his yacht and opened fire on Lee. Kankuntu intervened in the invasion.
Springing into action, Kankuntu attacked the pirates head on despite the pelting of bullets. The pirates managed to shoot and stab Kankuntu to stop his attacks. With Kankuntu unable to help, the pirates tied up Lee and his wife, took all of the valuables aboard the ship, and left the three at sea. Lee and his wife managed to untie themselves and get back to shore where they and Kankuntu were treated for their injuries.
#1 – Belle
There has only been one dog in all of history that has ever won the VITA Wireless Samaritan Award, an honor that belongs to a 17 pound beagle named Belle. Belle’s owner, Ken Weaver of Orlando, Florida, suffers from diabetes and trained Belle to react in times of need. One day, Weaver had a diabetic complication that caused him to have a seizure and collapse. When her beloved owner fell unconscious, Bell sprang into action as she bit into Weaver’s cell phone to call 911!
Through training, Belle was able to detect what was wrong with Weaver as she would often sniff out his low blood sugar, whining and pawing at Weaver until he checked his sugar levels. This time, Belle instinctively knew that something was wrong and called 911. Medics rushed to the scene and found Weaver on the floor. Weaver was nursed back to health and, as a reward for saving her owner’s life, Belle earned a trip to Washington D.C. where she was presented with the Samaritan Award. We imagine she probably got a pretty tasty bone too!