Saving Lives Four Legs at a Time: heroic pets

Posted by Dr. Kim Smyth on Dec 09 2011

Pets bring so much joy to our lives that it is hard to imagine life without them. When I rescued my three pets, I likely saved their lives (not that the cats show me ANY gratitude!), but some pet parents actually owe their lives to their pets!

Stories abound of pets saving people’s lives. Some pets are even trained to notice signs of oncoming seizures or low blood sugar and can contact emergency officials in response. Military dogs save lives every day, and search and rescue dogs are key in locating missing people after disasters. But my favorite stories involve every day, run-of-the-mill pets saving their pet parents' lives. Here are some of my favorites:

  • Just recently, a 79-year-old Minnesota woman with Parkinson’s disease fell outside her country home. Nobody responded to her calls for help, and her medical alert bracelet did not work. Her fearless dog, Crackers, kept her safe through the night, first fending off raccoons, and then guarding her from coyotes! Now that’s loyalty!
  • Another recent story comes from Canton, Georgia, where a 6-month-old Boxer puppy named Ollie insisted that his family leave the house, and wouldn’t quit in his efforts until the whole family was safe in the yard. It turns out that the gas in the gas fireplace was leaking!
  • Along the same lines comes the tale of Schnautzie the cat. You know when your cat comes to bug you in the middle of the night and not only do you ignore her, sometimes you shoo her away? Well, Schnautzie wouldn’t give up. She bugged and bugged and bugged her owners until finally they relented and got up. It’s a good thing, because gas was leaking in the basement. And had the furnace turned on (a likely scenario on a chilly October night), the house could have gone up in flames!
  • Proving that tales of pets’ love and bravery is timeless, this story comes from 1959, when a female sled dog named Red fought a bloody battle against a polar bear, saving the life of Colonel E.D. Feathers, the commander of a floating weather station in Alaska.
  • And before you give all the credit to our dogs and cats, here’s one for all the bird lovers out there: Willie, a parrot in Denver, Colorado, saved the life of a choking 2-year-old when he screamed “mama baby” over and over, drawing the babysitter’s attention to the troubled toddler.

Luckily, I have never been in the position to need lifesaving effort by my pets, but I have a feeling that we’ll continue to hear these tales of heroic acts of bravery throughout the rest of time.

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