David Bruce: Animal Heroes

• Jessica Stam, legally blind and aged 25 in July 2005, owes her life to her guide dog, Joan, a 2-year-old yellow Labrador retriever, who engaged in what is called “intelligent disobedience,” which is disobeying the owner when there is a good reason for disobeying the owner. Jessica and Joan were walking together when Joan suddenly stopped even though Jessica wanted to continue walking forward. Just then a car came down a driveway. Jessica said, “The woman didn’t see us. She said, ‘Oh, my God, I am so sorry.’ Joan saved my life. With just my cane, I would have been road kill.” Jessica, who lives in Eustis, Florida, is grateful to have Joan. She said, “There’s so much I can do now that I couldn’t do before. I was always nervous even when I would go to the grocery store. I would knock over displays. Joan stops and goes around it. She stops for obstacles. She looks to see what’s there.” The guide dog also has another advantage for Jessica, who said, “The general public is much more sensitive to a handicap when you have a guide dog. With my cane, most people would avoid me. I hated it. I felt self-conscious. There’s nothing I can’t do now, except drive. I really have that much self-confidence.” She added, “Before I used my cane, and now it’s so much different. It’s so much easier to have my dog. Joan is just perfect. She is my miracle.”

• When Maureen Porter, a 69-year-old grandmother, fell and broke her hip in Cenarth, Ceredigion, Wales, in May 2005, no humans were close enough to hear her cries for help. Fortunately, Pedro, her 15-year-old border collie, stayed with her for 18 hours, keeping her warm all night and prodding her with his paw to keep her awake. The next morning, Mrs. Porter’s husband, Eric Porter, who was visiting Essex, telephoned her. When she did not answer, Mr. Porter telephoned a neighbor, Pat Milner, who checked up on and found Mrs. Porter. Mr. Porter, age 70, said, “Maureen had dirt under her fingernails from trying to move. It was very dark and cold throughout the night, and she could hear owls and foxes. But Pedro made sure she was safe and warm.” Ten years previously, Mrs. Porter had adopted Pedro from a dog’s rescue home. Mr. Milner said about Mrs. Porter, “She was cold and unwell. I dread to think what would have happened but for him [Pedro].” Mr. Porter said, “Someone in the village shop asked me the other day if I was going to play the lottery this week and I said, ‘No, I think I’ve already won because I’ve still got Maureen.’”

• On 23 February 2005, Neena Saloiya, who lives independently, has been blind from birth, and was a student at Woodsworth College in the University of Toronto, brushed a hot electric element with her oven mitt, which caught on fire and started a big blaze in her apartment. She called 911 and then let her guide dog, Ziggy, lead her to safety down 20 flights of stairs. She said about Ziggy, “He pushed me with his head as if to say, ‘Go this way.’” Her apartment was gutted and she had no insurance, but people rallied to help her. All she had was a cell phone, the clothing she was wearing at the time of the fire, and Ziggy, but officials at the University of Toronto got her a place in a suite that she shared with three other students. She said, “It’s going OK. It’s a change for them too, especially having Ziggy there, but they’re handling it well, so it’s nice.” Ms. Saloiya received other help as well and was looking forward to going back to her apartment after its renovation. She said, “I would like to say thank you to people.”

• In July 2011 in Beaverton, Oregon, a family’s pet dog, a golden retriever whose name is Marcus, woke them up and enabled them to escape from and put out a fire. Marcus woke up Kelli Landis and her husband. Kelli said, “Had he not been barking and just sounding different than he usually did, we could have just still stayed asleep. But the thing was that he was being so loud. And he even came into the bedroom and was growling and just making a lot of noise. And that got us up.” Her husband alerted their neighbors in the apartment building about the fire and they put it out using pots and pans and trashcans filled with water. Kelli and her husband had adopted Marcus in Hawaii. When they moved to Oregon, they thought about leaving Marcus behind because of the expense of taking him with them, but they are thankful they did not do that. Kelli said, “He was a rescue dog. We rescued him, and now he’s rescued us.” The Landises rewarded Marcus with a rawhide bone and a new toy ball.

• In June 2005, in Vancouver, Washington, a 2-year-old black Lab named Maddie saved the life of a 2-year-old boy named Sammy by making what Sammy’s father, Ron Lobey, called a “weird bark” that caused him to investigate what was upsetting Maddie. He found his son floating face-up, but still under the water of a pond. He performed CPR on his son, who completely recovered. Being face-up is rare in drowning victims; Maddie may have tried to pull the toddler from the pond. The Lobeys got Maddie when his son was born. Mr. Lobey said, “She helped us save our baby’s life.”

• When the 26 December 2004 tsunami hit the village of Tarang Badi in India, Prabhakaran was out to sea and Mubbi, his daughter, was on the shore. He tried to get to her, but the tsunami knocked him unconscious. When he regained consciousness, he discovered that his daughter was still alive. He said, “Some villagers saved me, and they told me later that my dog Ramu saved my daughter.” When the waters began to recede, Ramu had gone into the waters and dragged Mubbi out by her hair. Prabhakaran adds, “Many people say God saved them, but in my daughter’s case it was my dog.”


Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved


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