The rescue stories of dogs stand as a testament to the loyalty and sense of duty dogs possess. Whether they were the ones being rescued or doing the rescuing, these tales provide evidence of canine undying love and devotion. Whether finding a lost kitten or catching an enemy spy, these dogs are true heroes of their own lives and ours.
Sometimes, rescue stories don’t get a lot of hype or publicity but that doesn’t make the stories or players any less special. Take the story of the rescue dog, Juno. Her story begins with an adoption that has blossomed into a heartwarming story of love and devotion. Juno was adopted for Lucas Hembree, a then five-year boy diagnosed with a rare progressive disorder called Sanfilippo syndrome.
Deteriorating neurological abilities prompted his parents to find a service dog for Lucas. The family turned to a local shelter when they found that they couldn’t afford to buy a trained service dog. They rescued Juno, a Belgian Malinois, who would come to be Lucas’ constant companion. As the two bonded, Lucas’ parents noticed something special about Juno. Not only could she help keep Lucas from falling or running away, she could also detect when Lucas was about to have a seizure in time to alert an adult.
Dangerously low oxygen levels typically proceeded an episode. Juno’s ability to detect this and alert Lucas’ parents bordered on miraculous for the Hembree family. Juno is a supreme example of one of an amazing dog rescuer. For the Hembree family, Juno is more than a comfort and companion for their son Lucas; she is a real hero.
Eight-year-old bloodhound, Glory, was the 2015 American Humane Association’s Search and Rescue award winner. The annual the American Humane Hero Dog Awards® recognize the canine heroes among us as well as their owners or handlers. When you hear about a search and rescue dog, you might first think about the dog finding lost people. Glory’s job however, it to track lost pets.
For people who have lost a beloved pet, Glory is nothing short of a hero. According to the ASPCA, about 85 percent of lost dogs and cats find their way back home. For dogs, about 93 percent are typically recovered. But for cats the number is much lower, 74 percent. The lower recovery rate for cats is part of what makes search and rescue dogs like Glory so special.
Glory helps locate both lost cats and dogs. When owners have just about given up hope of ever seeing their beloved pets again, Glory gets the job done. Her resume includes many canine and feline rescues resulting in glowing testimonials from grateful owners. Each animal found is just another amazing pet rescue story.
Sergeant Stubby has the unique distinction of having both been rescued and rescuer. The title of Sergeant is real. Stubby began his life as a stray, near Yale University in Connecticut. Corporal Robert Conroy and members of the 102nd Infantry took a shine to the canine. When it was time for the Infantry to ship out to France during World War I Stubby came along too, courtesy of Corporal Conroy who smuggled him onto the plane.
Stubby was so much more than just a companion he became invaluable. Stubby soon learned to alert the men to incoming artillery and other dangers and also helped paramedics locate wounded soldiers in the field. Like the men he fought with, Stubby had his share of war wounds. Stubby was injured from a grenade and another time from mustard gas exposure. Stubby’s greatest triumph—and rank in the United States Armed Forces—came in 1918 when he helped capture an enemy spy.
Stubby’s celebrity status followed him back to the United States. At the end of the war, Stubby had served in 17 oversea battles. For his efforts he received many medals, including one from the Humane Society presented by General John Pershing, the Commanding General of the United States Army. Stubby became a lifetime member of the American Legion, Red Cross, and YMCA as an honor bestowed upon him resulting from his service abroad. How many dogs do you know who have met three US presidents? Stubby did.
Like Stubby, Balto had also been on both sides of a rescue. His rise to fame started on January 25, 1925 in Nome, Alaska. With a dwindling supply of serum, an epidemic of diphtheria threatened to overtake the isolated town, during the dead of winter. In order to get enough serum, officials recruited a relay of dogsled teams to make the arduous journey across the tundra, the only way to reach Nome.
Blizzard conditions and -20 degree Fahrenheit temperatures would have derailed these efforts if it hadn’t been for Norwegian musher Gunnar Kaasen and his team of dogs led by Balto. Even in the midst of whiteout conditions, Balto pushed on, valiantly leading his team then delivering the serum to Nome on February 2, 1925, making him a national hero.
Balto’s story doesn’t end there. After this historic mission, Balto and his team were relegated to a dime museum for a year until Cleveland businessman, George Kimble rescued them. Kimble led the effort to bring the dogs to Cleveland for a most fitting heroes welcome and parade. The team lived out their days in the Brookside Zoo, now known as the Cleveland Metroparks Zoo.
The attacks on September 11, 2001 still leave us overwhelmed with grief to this day. However, along with the sorrow, there was a glimmer of beauty to be found in the aftermath. Hope came in the form of more than 300 search-and-rescue dogs charged with aiding in the efforts of firefighters, rescue workers, and police officers in an effort to find survivors.
No one knows this fact better than Port Authority secretary, Genelle Guzman-McMillan. Thanks to rescue dog, Trakr, Genelle ended her 27-hour nightmare where she was trapped in the South Tower rubble. Trakr was one of many rescue dogs who worked tireless 12-hours shifts to find survivors like Genelle. These rescue dogs collective stories are affirmative proof of the canine devotion to duty.
Dogs are amazing animals. They comfort us and give us their unconditional love. As the five stories listed here show, sometimes our canine friends go above and beyond to rescue our bodies and souls even when the odds are stacked against them and us. Years from now, these heroic dogs and undoubtedly more to come will continually inspire us.