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Dog Heroes That Saved Lives and Property

By Linda Cole

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.

Weela began life abandoned in an alley with nine siblings. Lori Watkins of Imperial Beach, California, happened on the pit bull pups and took them in. Lori found homes for nine of the pups, but couldn't part with Weela who had become devoted to her son. In January of 1993, southern California was hit with heavy rains that caused a dam on the Tijuana River to break. Weela, Lori and her husband rescued 12 dogs at a friend's ranch. The dog could tell where there was quicksand, nasty drop-offs and mud bogs that could have been deadly. The flooding persisted, and 17 dogs and a cat were discovered stranded on an island.

Weela delivered pet food to the stranded animals by swimming to the island. She battled stiff currents with 30 - 50 pounds of food that was placed in a pack strapped on her back, and she continued making her food run until the stranded animals were finally rescued on Valentine's Day. Weela is also credited with saving 13 horses stranded on a manure pile where they had been driven because of high water, and she saved 30 people trying to cross the river in an area she knew wasn't safe. Weela literally herded the people downstream to a safe crossing. She was awarded a certificate of merit and silver-plated engraved bowl. Earlier, in 1991, Weela had saved Lori's son from a rattlesnake but suffered a bite in the process. Obviously, she survived her snake bite to go on to even greater fame.

Buddy is a 6 year old German Shepherd living in Alaska with his owner, 24 year old Ben Heinrichs. Last year, Ben was inside his workshop cleaning parts for his truck with gasoline. Fumes from the gas exploded when a spark from a heater ignited the gas. Ben ran outside to put out the flames on him and said to Buddy, “We need to get help.” That's all Buddy needed to hear.

What makes this a remarkable story is the trooper responding was searching for Ben's house and the only way to find it was by using GPS. However, the system wasn't working and with no idea which way to turn, the trooper was lost – until he saw Buddy waiting by the side of the dark road. Buddy had raced down the road to find help. As soon as he saw the patrol car, he turned around and led the trooper to Ben's home. Buddy then disappeared back down the road to wait for the fire trucks. He had not been taught to do this; it's something he did on his own and it saved the family's home. Buddy was honored by the troopers with an engraved dog bowl with his name on it. The video from the dashboard camera on the patrol car shows Buddy in action.

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