The bravery and loyalty of dogs fills the pages of history with unselfish acts of heroism. Dog heroes can be mixed breed and purebred, but the one thing they all have in common is a steadfast devotion to their owner. It can be argued that dogs act purely on instinct, but I think they also act on love and recognize when the people they love are in danger. Many dog heroes were rescued themselves by their owner.
Shana, a half wolf/half German Shepherd, was rescued as a sickly two week old pup. In 2006, she was 7 years old and weighed 160 pounds, which came in handy when she saved her owners, 81 year old Norman and Eve Fertig. The couple had been tending to animals on the Enchanted Forest Wildlife Sanctuary in Alden, N.Y. when a sudden winter storm hit in early December. The storm knocked down huge trees at the sanctuary, trapping the Fertigs between two buildings. It also knocked out the electricity.
Temperatures plunged to freezing, and Norman and Eve were trapped outside without warm clothes or shelter. What Shana did next amazed the couple and firemen who made it to the sanctuary the next morning to check on the couple. Shana began to dig through the snow and dirt under the fallen trees and kept digging until she had a ditch dug all the way to the house. She returned to Eve, grabbed her sleeve and slid the 86 pound woman onto her back. Norman grabbed Eve’s legs and Shana pulled both of them through the ditch to their home. Safely inside, she then laid across the couple to keep them warm through the night. From start to finish, it took Shana almost 8 hours to dig a trench 200 ft. long. She was given an award that’s usually only given to humans – the Citizens for Humane Animal Treatment’s Hero’s Award for bravery.
I saw a news story the other day about a little dog named Mango that had gotten onto a multi-lane highway. Traffic was at a standstill as Mango’s dad tried in vain to capture the terrified dog. Mango raced around evading capture and finally ran off into a neighborhood. Animal control arrived to help, and the poor dog was at her wits’ end as strangers closed in on her. Finally, Mango’s mom arrived and called to her, and the frightened dog raced into her arms. It brought tears to my eyes as I thought about how confused and scared Mango was. Pets love the sound of our voice, and our scent is the best perfume in the world to them. Our scent can even help lead a lost dog or cat home.
Why do pets steal our stuff? Because our smell is all over everything we touch. They love to snuggle in our beds and clothes. My dog Riley’s favorite place to be while I’m working is on a footstool under my desk. I have a pillow on it for my comfort, but she loves to lay on it and rest her head on my leg. I love it just as much as she does; I know she’s doing it because she likes to be next to me and she can snuggle next to my scent which makes her feel safe.
Our voice is a sweet melody to our pets. Their entire body language changes when we talk to them. My cat Jabbers will roll over on his back and stick his front paws in the air as he listens to me. His eyes are fixed on me. Then he sits up and talks to me. Some of my other cats will join in to see what’s going on. The dogs gather around me with their tails wagging furiously when I talk to them. Some days I feel like I’m a rock star with adoring fans. But then, in our pet’s eyes we are rock stars!
My Siberian Husky Cheyenne was an escape artist. She found ways out of the dog pen or raced past visitors at the front door. She learned how to quickly slip out of her collar on walks. I had to watch her like a hawk. If she got away despite my best efforts, she’d be gone for about an hour before I’d see her slowly making her way out of the woods nearby. When she was running away, my calls fell on deaf ears but coming back, she was worn out from her run. As soon as she heard my voice, her beautiful blue eyes would light up and she’d walk over to me with the most innocent look.
Natural disasters can happen in the blink of an eye, and people and animals caught in nature’s fury have their lives changed in a matter of minutes. Even with all the destruction, life goes on as stories of survival emerge from the rubble. Japan’s earthquake and tsunami devastated so many lives, but some were saved because of the devotion of dogs.
As an animal lover, when natural disasters happen I worry about the pets that are caught up in something they don’t understand. Pets that suddenly find themselves wandering through debris and shivering through cold nights with no shelter, food or clean water and no comforting voice from the ones they love.
Since the earthquake and tsunami struck Japan, videos and stories of survival have been popping up on Facebook. One video in particular captured my attention. It shows two dogs left homeless by the devastation. One dog is injured and his friend stands guard over him in a true display of loyalty. When this video began to appear, the person posting it left a comment saying, “This is a hard video to watch. It’s heartbreaking.” So I passed it by not wanting to watch something I knew would make me cry. But it stuck with me as the days passed and I kept thinking about the dogs and wondering what their fate was.
The video was shot by a Japanese reporter and his cameraman surveying the destructive power of the tsunami in an area called Arahama. A dog approached but stayed a comfortable distance away from them. He gave a bark as if saying, “That’s close enough,” and went back to another dog lying in the background in front of a large metal barrel resting on its side. It’s obvious the dog was protecting his injured friend. Both dogs were muddy, wet, cold and probably hungry. No one knows how long they had been together, but it’s believed they knew each other. The uninjured dog wore a collar, so he was at least someone’s pet. The good news is, both dogs were rescued. The dog guarding his friend was taken to a shelter, and the injured dog was taken to a vet where he is being cared for.
One story of survival that has stayed with me recounted a 12 year old Shih Tzu named Babu and her owner, 83 year old Tami Akanuma, who rode out the earthquake in their home. Babu is not a dog who enjoys walks, but on the day of the earthquake, she insisted on going for a walk when the lights in the house began to flicker. Once outside, instead of following Tami, Babu yanked on her leash and went in the opposite direction towards a nearby hill. Each time Tami stopped to rest, Babu would urge her to keep moving by pulling on her leash to get Tami to move faster. Babu finally relaxed and stopped pulling, and Tami was amazed to have discovered they had walked a little over half a mile in just a few minutes. As she turned around to look down the hill, the tsunami crashed through her coastal town and Tami’s home was destroyed, along with everything else in the area.
Those of us who are close to our pets aren’t surprised by these two stories of devotion, but they are nonetheless humbling because they remind us how the strong bond we’ve built with our pets goes both ways. Even between two dogs.
I do think animals have an ability to predict the weather to a certain extent, and I’m sure Babu sensed the tsunami. She could have raced outside and left Tami behind – but she didn’t. Babu knew her job was to lead Tami to higher ground because of the impending danger she sensed. The uninjured dog in the first story could have taken off on his own to find shelter and food – but he didn’t. His devotion kept him by the side of his injured friend. Loyalty and love run deep once a bond and trust has been formed, and not even an earthquake’s destruction nor a tsunami could break their bond.
This isn’t a feel bad story. It’s a reminder to love your pet each and every day, and never take them for granted. It’s a reminder to “see” stray cats or dogs who are trying to survive the best they can because they could be someone’s lost pet. It’s a reminder to treat every animal with respect and realize how precious they all are. It’s a reminder to give the people and pets you love an extra hug. Life and security should never be taken for granted, because both can be changed in the blink of an eye.
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The personal opinions and/or use of trade, firm, corporation or brand names, in this blog is for the information and convenience of the reader. Such use does not constitute an official endorsement or approval by CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company of any product or service to the exclusion of others that may be suitable. All opinions in this blog are those of the individual authors and not necessarily of CANIDAE® Natural Pet Food Company.