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7 Shelter Dogs That Saved Lives

Did you know October is National Adopt-A-Shelter-Dog Month? While the month-long celebration of adopted critters is nearly over, it’s never too late to take home a wonderful new dog from your local animal shelter. And if companionship and unquestionable love aren’t good enough reasons to adopt a new best friend, these pups show that taking in a shelter dog might even save your life.

1. Pearl

This black lab hasn’t just saved one person’s life—Pearl has saved many lives through her work as a search and rescue dog. Her heroic story started when she was surrendered to an animal shelter when she was 4 years old. Pearl was soon adopted by volunteers from the National Disaster Search Dog Foundation, who helped train and get her certified as a search dog. Soon, she was partnered with her new owner and handler, Ron Horetski.

As part of the Los Angeles County Fire Department, Pearl almost certainly had some notable adventures in her first two years on the job. But she was also on the scene after a massive earthquake struck Haiti in 2010. Pearl and six other search and rescue dogs spent hours each day looking for victims trapped under the rubble—some buried up to four stories under the surface. The team managed to bring 12 people to safety.

After returning to the states, Pearl was celebrated as a hero and became the subject of a new book called A New Job for Pearl, written by teaching volunteer Allyn Lee and illustrated by second grade students at Rancho Romero Elementary. While there were plenty of heroic rescue dogs working in Haiti, Pearl was picked as the subject of the book because she came from an animal shelter and could have easily been euthanized instead of rescued. Proceeds from the $10 book were used to cover the cost of training new rescue dogs, which costs $10,000 per animal.

2. Rocky

This yellow lab had every reason not to trust humans—when members of an animal shelter finally caught the timid stray, they discovered he was malnourished and wounded by buckshot. Since his psychological issues meant he wasn’t a candidate for adoption, Lassen County Animal Shelter workers had two options: put him down, or enroll him in their Pups on Parole program. Hoping the abused dog might still be able to come out of his shell, he was enrolled in the program that pairs prison inmates with shelter dogs, allowing both to build confidence and trust.

Rocky was one of the many dogs to have his life turned around through the program. He came out of the experience relaxed and trusting of people. He had such a remarkable story that when one prison employee heard the tale, she immediately decided the dog would be a perfect addition to her family.

Dawn Tibbets knew her husband, Floyd, could use some company on his rock hunting trips in the local canyons. Only a month after Rocky’s adoption, he and Floyd were out in a remote canyon when Floyd's heart began to beat irregularly, which caused him to collapse and go in and out of consciousness. Every time he passed out, Rocky licked his hand until he woke up. Finally, Floyd was conscious enough to try to find his way out of the canyon, but he was disoriented and started walking in the wrong direction. But Rocky kept going the other way, and Floyd followed him. Eventually, the two made it back to the car, all thanks to Rocky’s sense of direction and dedication to the family who brought him home.

3. Duke

In the 6 years since the Brousseaus adopted the exceptionally well-behaved Duke, he had never jumped on the bed—which is exactly why they knew something was wrong when the mutt jumped on their bed in the middle of the night, trembling.

The new parents—their little girl had just been born 9 weeks before—immediately rushed into the child’s room to check on her, only to discover she was not breathing. The parents called 911 and emergency workers were able to rush her to the hospital in time to save her life.

Jenna Brousseau says Duke is the sole reason their baby survived; if he hadn’t woken them up in such a panic, they would have gone back to sleep. The couple is hoping that Duke’s story will inspire others to adopt shelter pets.

4. Bear


Like many large dogs, the aptly named Bear, a 100-pound Shiloh Shepherd, had a hard time finding a new owner when he was in a shelter four years ago. Eventually, though, Texan Debbie Zeisler fell in love with the massive pup and took him home.

Debbie’s decision may have saved her life. Since a bad horse riding accident at 18, Debbie had experienced seizures almost daily—and Bear, it seemed, could predict when they were going to happen, despite having no formal training whatsoever. Bear now leans on Debbie’s legs to warn her when an attack is coming so his master will have time to take her medication. While she has failed to heed the dog’s warnings a few times and fallen as a result, Debbie has been able to handle her condition much better since Bear has been in her life.

Last May, Debbie had a seizure and fell down on the front steps of her home, hitting her head and losing consciousness. Bear ran to neighboring homes and scratched on their doors. While no neighbors answered, an animal control officer spotted the dog and pulled over. As soon as she opened her door, the dog jumped in. The officer read Bear’s tags and saw that he was a seizure alert dog, so she followed him to his home, where she found Debbie semi-conscious and confused. The animal control officer called the paramedics and Bear accompanied Debbie in the ambulance to the hospital.

Bear was later honored with the Annual National Hero Dog Award from the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) in Los Angeles. "This just goes to show how amazing shelter dogs can be," said SPCALA President Madeline Bernstein. "If Debbie had not adopted Bear, where would she and Bear be today? The bond between an animal and his human companion is powerful and life-saving."

5. Queen Sheba

This beautiful pup was passed over time and time again at the Indianapolis Humane Society, but eventually, John Green and his father fell in love with her and brought her home. Only a few months after the family adopted Queen Sheba, John had a heart attack and was unable to call out to his father for help or reach a phone to call paramedics. Fortunately, Sheba noticed that something was wrong and quickly sprang into action, licking John’s dad’s face to get his attention and lead him to the room John was in. Doctors said that John likely wouldn’t have made it to the hospital in time if it weren’t for Queen Sheba.

6. Lilly

Boston Police Officer David Lanteigne knew his mother, Christine Spain, could use a therapy dog to help her deal with alcoholism, depression, and anxiety. So he adopted a pit bull named Lilly from the local shelter, and sure enough, the more Christine focused her energy and attention on Lilly, the better she felt and the less she drank. That alone could have saved Christine’s life, but years after her adoption, Lilly saved her owner’s life and sacrificed a part of herself in the process.

Three years after the dog's adoption, Christine was walking Lilly when she collapsed in the worst possible place—on railroad tracks. Fortunately, Lilly sprang into action and started to pull her off of the tracks, and continued working to save her master, even as a train approached at full speed. When the engineer saw the woman and her dog, he tried to stop, but it was too late: The train ran over the dog’s front right leg.

Christine survived the accident only because of Lilly’s actions and while the pup was hurt—her leg had to be amputated—she pulled through and has since been reunited with her family. Christine has since been charged with obstruction and danger on a railroad track, walking on a railroad track, and animal cruelty, but even if she does serve time, Christine’s son, David, will be happy to take care of the animal that saved his mother’s life, and Lilly will certainly be happy to see her master when she is released.

"We saved Lilly, and Lilly saved my mom's life," David said. "My hope is that this story is going to get out and show what pit bulls are truly about. I hope by Lilly going through this, it's going to get other dogs homes."

7. Mabeline

A 17-year-old volunteer at the Friends of Strays animal shelter was walking Mabeline on a path behind the building one day when a registered sex offender chased the girl down, grabbed her by the hair and then pinned her to the ground. While the girl struggled to get free, the 40 pound Rhodesian ridgeback took matters into her own paws, attacking the villain and scaring him off so the girl could escape.

While plenty of dogs have been known to step in to protect their owners, Mabeline’s actions are particularly impressive since the girl was only one of many volunteers at the shelter that helped care for the pup. Still, the ordinarily loving and sweet dog knew her friend was in danger and knew she had to protect her. The attacker has since been arrested.

While the victim of the attack couldn’t take Mabeline home because one of her family members has a severe allergy to dogs, the dog was soon adopted out anyway. Surprisingly, her new owner, Mary Callahan, had no idea that her pup was a hero until a news crew told her about the incident.

Are any of you Flossers the proud owners of dogs that once lived in an animal shelter? If so, have they ever done anything heroic to save you? Tell us in the comments!

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Smart Shopping
25 Dapper Outfit Choices for Fashionable Pets
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Lavishing your furry friends with adorable attire is a benefit of pet ownership that they don't mention on the adoption forms. Whether you prefer practical clothing like sweaters and jackets or statement pieces like bow ties and tutus, these dapper duds are perfect for a howl-iday or "gotcha day" gift, or simply for saying, "Who's the cutest little pupper in pajamas? You are!"

1. CASHMERE DOG SWEATER; FROM $165

dog in sweater
Canine Styles

This classic cable-knit cashmere sweater is a sophisticated look for Fido or Finn. Get it from Canine Styles, a luxury dog emporium in New York City that has plenty of posh and preppy outfits.

Find It: Canine Styles

2. TOGGLE DOG COAT; $85

dog in coat
Canine Styles

This toggle coat (available in orange, navy, and tan) is as fashionable as it is warm. Made of Melton wool, it has Velcro closures to make getting dressed easy. It's great for long walks in the country.

Find It: Canine Styles

3. DOG TUXEDO; FROM $90

Dog in tuxedo
Etsy

This satin tuxedo is perfect for the canine members of your wedding party, though it will brighten up any other occasion as well. The custom, handmade outfit comes complete with a snappy bow tie.

Find It: Etsy

4. DOG BELLE DRESS; FROM $45

Dog Belle Dress
Etsy

The queen of your castle can feel like a Disney princess in her very own version of Belle's iconic yellow dress from Beauty and the Beast. This ball gown is made from yellow crepe satin with chiffon overlay on the bodice and features hand-painted gold detailing on the skirt. Enchanted rose not included.

Find It: Etsy

5. POODLE SKIRT OUTFIT FOR DOGS; $26

Rubies Pink Fifties Girl Pet Costume
Amazon

What if you could buy a 1950s poodle skirt for your poodle? This retro dress is comprised of a pink poodle skirt, striped bodice, and sequined belt, and comes with a bow headband.

Find It: Amazon

6. RIBBED CROCHET BUNNY SWEATER; $25

bunny in a sweater
Etsy

Your snuggle-bunny will look like a little fancy-pants in this ribbed crochet sweater. Choose from seven colors, including this dashing deep red.

Find It: Etsy

7. BESPOKE MONOGRAM DOG SWEATER; FROM $155

Dog in sweater
Ruby Rufus

Bespoke clothing isn't just for humans: British luxury dog clothing brand Ruby Rufus will make your pooch a custom monogram sweater made with 100 percent Italian cashmere. You can even order it in your dog's favorite color.

Find It: Ruby Rufus

8. HOT PINK DOG TUTU; $17

Dog in hot pink tutu
Etsy

Tutus look absolutely adorable on tiny humans and animals alike. If your pooch wants to get in touch with its inner ballerina, then grab this hot pink number from Etsy. Rave reviews are a sure thing.

Find It: Etsy

9. PINK DOG POLO SHIRT; $35

Dog Pink Polo Shirt
Canine Styles

This pink polo shirt is perfect for your preppy fur baby. It features not one but a veritable multitude of crocodiles. They'll be the most dapper dog at the country club.

Find It: Canine Styles

10. DOG BARN COAT WITH BROWN CORDUROY COLLAR; $85

Dog in barn coat
Canine Styles

When it's time for a walk, your dog will look effortlessly chic in this fancy barn coat. It comes in navy, cranberry, orange, hot pink, and loden and features convenient pockets for anyone with opposable thumbs.

Find It: Canine Styles

11. WHITE PET NECK RUFF; $26

Pet Neck Ruff
Etsy

Your canine or kitty will look like their painting belongs in London's National Portrait Gallery with this Elizabethan neck ruff.

Find It: Etsy

12. CHICKEN SWEATER; $25

chicken wearing sweater
Etsy

Chickens can get cold when they're strutting around outside. A sweater (well, more like sweater vest) for your bird can also help prevent feather picking during molting season. Or, it can simply keep them warm while they stare pensively across a snowy landscape.

Find It: Etsy

13. PET CIRCLE SCARF; $15

dog in scarf
Etsy

An infinity scarf is a perfect burst of color on a dreary early morning walk. The proprietor of Mitten Made on Etsy originally designed this wool snood for her miniature Dachshund to help keep her warm during the long, cold winters in Michigan.

Find It: Etsy

14. FAB DOG TRAVEL RAINCOAT; FROM $18

Fab Dog Travel Raincoat
Chewy

This timeless yellow rain slicker will look great on any puppy when it's raining cats and dogs. It's made of 100 percent waterproof nylon shell that keeps fur dry. Bonus: It's perfect for an It Halloween costume.

Find It: Chewy

15. LACE CAT OR DOG COLLAR; FROM $10

cat in lace collar
Etsy

This handmade, white lace collar is a must-have for fancy felines. It's also embellished with a large rhinestone.

Find It: Etsy

16. FITWARM PENGUIN PAJAMAS FOR DOGS; FROM $10

Fitwarm Cute Penguin Xmas Dog Pajamas
Amazon

Keep your pupper warm on cold winter nights with these penguin PJs. They're great for doggie sleepovers or lazy weekends on the couch watching Netflix.

Find It: Amazon

17. PLAID CASHMERE DOG COAT; FROM $225

dog in plaid coat
Canine Styles

Your dog will look like a proper gentleman in this smart plaid peacoat. This fine garment is made of cashmere with a faux fur lining and leather buttons, and is a perfect shield against chill and fog.

Find It: Canine Styles

18. SATIN PET BOW TIE; FROM $8

Satin Bow Tie for Dog
Etsy

This satin doggie bow tie is perfect for any occasion. It comes in several colors and features a Velcro fastener that makes it easy to attach to a collar. Plus, 10 percent of every sale goes to charity: specifically to SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) and Feeding Pets of the Homeless.

Find It: Etsy

19. RED DOG DRESS; FROM $34

dog in dress
Etsy

Your good boy or girl will look red carpet-ready in this elegant gown. The voluminous tulle skirt is to die for, and each bow is embellished with beads. Custom orders are also available.

Find It: Etsy

20. DOG TIE; FROM $13

Dog tie
Etsy

Your pooch will be ready to stun at any black tie event. This tie is designed like a collar, making it easy to dress your four-legged friend. This Etsy store gives back: 10 perfect of all sales are donated to an animal protection association.

Find It: Etsy

21. NAUTICAL DOG DRESS WITH MATCHING LEASH; $20

Dog sailor dress
BaxterBoo

Perfect for a day on the town or setting sail in a schooner, this is the sailor outfit you never knew your best furry friend needed. This vintage throwback also comes with a matching leash.

Find It: BaxterBoo

22. TARTAN FLANNEL PET BOW TIE; $5.50

tartan pet bow tie
Etsy

Your dog or cat will turn heads in this flannel tartan bow tie. It has a convenient elastic loop that slides over your pup's collar.

Find It: Etsy

23. PUCCI DOG SHIRT; $23

dog in Pucci dog shirt
Etsy

Only the fanciest dogs wear, err, Pucci. Grab this punny "designer" t-shirt for your pup. This high-quality cotton statement piece is perfect for small breeds.

Find It: Etsy

24. PINK POLKA DOT AND LACE DOG HARNESS DRESS; $20

Pink Polka Dot and Lace Designer Dog Harness Dress
BaxterBoo

This feminine pink polka dot dress is simply adorable. It features a convenient built-in harness and comes with a matching leash.

Find It: BaxterBoo

25. PET SWEATER VEST; $6

pet sweater vest
Amazon

Your dog or cat will look like an erudite Oxford professor in this sweater vest. Note that the button on the pocket is shaped like a bone.

Find It: Amazon

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The Simple Way to Protect Your Dog From Dangerous Rock Salt
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Winter can be a tough time for dogs. The cold weather usually means there are fewer opportunities for walks and more embarrassing accessories for them to wear. But the biggest threat to canines this time of year is one pet owners may not notice: the dangerous rock salt coating the streets and sidewalks. If you live someplace where this is a problem, here are the steps you need to take to keep your pooch safe until the weather warms up, according to Life Hacker.

Rock salt poses two major hazards to pets: damage to their feet and poisoning from ingestion. The first is the one most pet owners are aware of. Not only do large grains of salt hurt when they get stuck in a dog’s paws, but they can also lead to frostbite and chemical burns due to the de-icing process at work. The easiest way to prevent this is by covering your dog’s paws before taking them outside. Dog booties get the job done, as do protective balms and waxes that can be applied directly to their pads.

The second danger is a little harder to anticipate. The only way you can stop your dog from eating rock salt from the ground is to keep a close eye on them. Does your dog seem a little too interested in a puddle or a mound of snow? Encourage them to move on before they have a chance to take a lick.

If, for some reason, you forget to follow the steps above and your pet has a bad encounter with some winter salt, don’t panic. For salty feet, soak your dog's paws in warm water once you get inside to wash away any remaining grit. If your dog exhibits symptoms like vomiting, diarrhea, and disorientation and you suspect they’ve ingested rock salt, contact your vet right away.

Even with the proper protection, winter can still create an unsafe environment for dogs. Check out this handy chart to determine when it’s too cold to take them for a walk.

[h/t Life Hacker]

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