• In June 2008, 12-year-old Tony Bailey went swimming in the Platte River near North Bend, Nebraska. In the past, that was not a problem, but this time the river was dangerous because rain had caused higher levels of water and dangerous currents. Tony said, “It was, like, over my head, and I couldn’t touch.” He cried for help, but the only one who heard him was Jake, his 4-year-old Labrador retriever. Tony said, “I was saying, ‘Help, help,’ and I saw him jump in, and then my head went under, and when I came up, he was right here by me.” Tony grabbed the dog’s neck, and the dog towed him to the riverbank and safety. Tony’s mother, Doris, was surprised by Jake’s heroism: “It’s something that I wouldn’t have expected him to do — to have the brains to do, I guess. He doesn’t listen. He doesn’t mind.” Tony added, “Sometimes he can act real hyper and weird. He’ll pick up rocks and think they’re balls and wants you to throw them to him.” Diane said, “You think you know your dog so well, but then he does something like this. He’s got a big heart, and he does have a brain in there.” Tony has the final words: “Thanks, guy. I love him so much.” Jake did get a reward for his heroism: a really big bone and forgiveness for every time he tracked mud into the house or dug a hole in the yard.
• Eric Carle, author and illustrator of the children’s book The Very Hungry Caterpillar, loves animals. He once had a cat named Fifi, and when he was preparing string beans, he noticed that Fifi was deeply interested in the string beans. He threw a string bean down the hall, and Fifi chased it and retrieved it and begged him to throw it again. The game continued until Fifi looked tired to Mr. Carle, and then he stopped throwing the string bean. Fifi took the string bean, put it in one of Mr. Carle’s shoes, and then curled around the shoe and took a nap. Each time Mr. Carle prepared string beans they played this game. And once while Mr. Carle and his wife were taking a walk to a park, they came across a turtle that was marching down a concrete sidewalk. Thinking that the sidewalk was no place for a turtle, they picked it up, carried it to the park, and released it. They then enjoyed the park. On their way back home, they came across the turtle, which was again on a sidewalk, walking toward the spot where they had first discovered it. Mr. Carle and his wife looked at each other and smiled. They picked up the turtle, carried it to the place where they had first found it, and put it down on the sidewalk. The turtle then walked to a bush and vanished.
• Stories of animals rescuing human infants appear in myths, such as the myth of Romulus and Remus being rescued and suckled by a mother wolf. Sometimes, animal heroes appear in real life. In August of 2008 a frightened 14-year-old girl gave birth to a boy in a shanty town near Buenos Aires, the capital of Argentina, and abandoned him in a field. The temperature was a chilly 37 degrees. Fortunately, an 8-year-old dog named La China, who had a litter of six puppies, came across the abandoned infant and saved him. La China picked up the infant with her teeth and carried him 50 meters to her litter. La China’s owner heard crying and investigated and found the baby boy, only a few hours old, lying with the six puppies and covered with a rag. The frightened 14-year-old mother came forward soon after. She was hospitalized and received psychological care. The baby boy, who weighed 8lb, 13oz, had no bite marks. Daniel Salcedo, chief of police of the Province of Buenos Aires, said about La China, “She took it like a puppy and rescued it. The doctors told us if she hadn’t done this, he would have died. The dog is a hero to us.”
• On September 15, 2007, a bear was walking on the Rainbow Bridge on Highway 40 near Donner Summit in the Sierra Nevada, near Lake Tahoe. Some oncoming cars frightened the bear, and it jumped over the railing and off the side of the bridge, which was 80 feet above ground. Fortunately, it managed to grab a ledge and pull itself to safety on a concrete girder beneath the bridge. Although it was safe, it was also stranded. Officials did not take action that day, but the next day when they saw that the bear was still on the concrete girder, sleeping, they formed and executed a plan. They slung a net beneath the bear, shot the bear with a tranquilizer, and then used poles to shove the bear into the net, which they lowered to the ground. When the bear regained consciousness, it wandered off into the woods. “I’ve been on a lot of bear rescues,” said Dave Baker of the Truckee BEAR League (People Living in Harmony with Bears), “and this is the most intense bear call that I’ve been on.”
• Eric Carle, author and illustrator of many children’s books, observes animals closely. At the zoo, he was watching the penguins and noticed that they were weirdly still and quiet. They were also closely observing something. Mr. Carle looked, and he saw a snake on a rock. Snakes and penguins come from different worlds, and it seemed to Mr. Carle as if the penguins were trying to figure put what a snake was and the snake was trying to figure out what penguins were. Mr. Carle told the zoo director about the snake and discovered that the snake was an escapee. The zoo director told him, “The reptile enclosure is on a different floor and quite a distance from the penguin pen. It’s a mystery to me how the snake could get from one to the other.” Mr. Carle went with the zoo director to the penguin pen. The zoo director saw the snake, and then he smiled and shook Mr. Carle’s hand.
Copyright by Bruce D. Bruce; All Rights Reserved
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