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It’s been said for centuries: “A dog is a man’s best friend.”
Don’t get us wrong, cats, birds, reptiles, and other companions are great, but canines are still “top dog” when it comes to pets. With over 36% of households owning a dog, according to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), pups are the number one pet choice in the United States. And dogs are so much more than cute faces, warm fur, and fun exercise partners.
Dogs have incredible qualities, like long-term memory, which keeps them in tune with their connections and allows them to learn from past experiences, like to never take food off the table again because they’ll get a newspaper to the snout. Ever-loyal, their short-term memory works in such a manner that they will not hold that newspaper swat against you because moments later they’ll be begging you to go play ball.
Dogs motivate you to get up and enjoy the little things in life, such as walks and a good laugh when they’re barking at their own tails. Best of all, they’re always by your side. Did your friends cancel plans? Is your family too busy? Your canine companion will be more than happy to spend time with you! Add in incredible instincts and a protective nature, and you can see why dogs are such beloved companions.
Not only that, dogs can be heroes, going about and beyond to assist their humans. Here are three of our favorite stories that show why dogs are forever man’s best friend.
1. The Dog Who Took a Bullet
Pit bulls, unfairly so, often get a bad rap due to their association with dog fighting. But this story isn’t about a pit bull being forced to fight; it’s about a heroic one who lost her leg protecting her family. In 2013, four burglars broke into a Virginia home while the family was asleep. The father of the household confronted them, and one of the intruders, armed with a shot gun, took aim at him. That’s when the family dog, Lefty, jumped in front of the man, taking the bullet for his owner.
The bullet shattered her shoulder and severely damaged her front leg. She was rushed to Atlantic Animal Hospital and, though surgery was immediately performed, the dog’s leg couldn’t be saved. The heroic pit bull survived and was ready to return home — but the family couldn’t afford the hospital bill. The animal hospital quickly posted the story to their Facebook page, and within days, all of Lefty’s medical expenses had been covered. She has been doing great ever since, and her family is forever grateful.
2. The Snake Challenger
In 2013, two young children were playing in the yard of their grandparents’ Florida home. When the grandparents heard a ruckus out on the lawn, they ran outside to see what was happening. That’s where they found their golden retriever, Brutis, holding a coiling snake in his mouth, preventing it from attacking the children. They got Brutis to drop the snake and quickly disposed of it — but not before identifying it as a coral snake, one of the most world’s most deadly snakes.
Suddenly, Brutis was in bad shape and his family scrambled to find help. After calling several area hospitals, they finally found assistance from Morton Plant North Bay Hospital, the only location that had coral snake antivenin on hand. Two separate antivenin treatments, one blood transfusion, and three months of recovery later, and Brutis was on the mend. He was awarded the National Hero Dog Award, and will be forever loved by his owners, their children, and their grandchildren.
3. The Lifeguard
While Hurricane Katrina, the 2005 storm that ripped across the Gulf Coast, caused massive damage and took thousands of lives, many inspiring and heroic stories came from the natual disaster. One of those involved a black Labrador retriever, who was ironically named Katrina.
As a New Orleans man was caught in the flood and the waters were rising around him, Katrina sprung into action and pulled the man to higher ground, preventing him from drowning. Soon after, both Katrina and the man were saved by rescue teams and taken to safety. Katrina would go on to win the Humane Society of the United States’ Genesis Award, which usually recognizes people or projects that aid in animal rights.