Although a pack mentality is natural for a dog, their bravery, loyalty, and selflessness can boggle the mind and warm the heart. Here are a few stories that illustrate what dogs are all about.
Sinbad, the Coast Guard Dog
Sinbad was a mixed breed puppy who was adopted by the crew of the Coast Guard cutter Campbell in 1938. He eventually enlisted, meaning he had the proper paperwork to qualify as a Coast Guard sailor, and even had his own uniform. He served for eleven years on the same ship. After a battle with the Nazi submarine U-606, the Campbell was badly damaged and most of the crew debarked. Of course, a good dog never debarks, so Sinbad stayed on with the most essential crew members as the ship was towed to port. Sinbad lived to enjoy retirement and quite a bit of publicity about his service.
Zoey, the Snake Handler
Size is no barrier to a dog determined to protect her family. Zoey the chihuahua weighs only five pounds, but she rose to the occasion when needed last summer. One-year-old Booker West was playing in his grandparent's backyard in Colorado when a rattlesnake struck at him! Zoey sprang into action, putting herself between the snake and the toddler. She sustained bites and was rushed to a veterinary hospital. Her head swelled and she almost lost an eye, but with anti-venom treatment, Zoey made a full recovery.
Hachiko, the World's Most Loyal Dog
Hachiko, an Akita who lived in Tokyo, was extremely loyal to his master, professor Hidesamuro Ueno. He waited every day for Ueno to return from work, meeting him at the train station at four o'clock. In 1925, Ueno suffered a stroke at work and died. Still, Hachiko went to the station every day at four and searched through the crowd for his master. Every day. For ten years. Which was the rest of his life. Upon his death in 1935, Hachiko was a national celebrity. His remains were stuffed and put on display at the National Science Museum in Tokyo. A statue of Hachiko stands at Shibuya Station as a tribute to the dog's unwavering loyalty.
Velvet Warmth on a Cold Night
In February of 2007, eight mountain climbers were caught by a snowstorm on Mt. Hood in Oregon. Climbing down, three of the group fell off a ledge along with Velvet, a black labrador. They were separated from the other five climbers, but continued climbing down. The group was forced to spend the night on the mountain before rescue could arrive. Velvet spent the night lying on each person in turn, helping to keep them warm in the storm.
"The dog probably saved their lives" by lying across them during the cold night, said Erik Brom, a member of the Portland Mountain Rescue team. He described the wind in the canyon as "hellacious."
Chips, the War Hero
A German shepherd named Chips was donated to the war effort by his owners shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941. He became a tank guard dog and eventually the most decorated dog of World War II. Several times he alerted his handler to an impending attack. Once he attacked a pillbox of Italian soldiers who were firing on his unit until they came out and were captured. Chips was awarded a Silver Star and a Purple Heart, but the awards were rescinded later when the Commander of the Order of the Purple Heart complained that the awards were demeaning to human soldiers. This marked the end of the practice of awarding medals to military dogs.
Tripod, the Disabled Dog Hero
Tripod the rat terrier with a dysfunctional leg was on her way to living in a shelter last year when she was taken in by John and Mary Smith. The Smiths are both disabled and felt a connection with Tripod. In March, Tripod was sleeping in their bedroom when a fire broke out.
With their blankets already on fire, Tripod urged the couple to hurry. But Mary was overwhelmed with the task of getting herself mobile, plus her husband into his wheelchair. She was ready to give up hope up "“ accepting their fate; however, Tripod had other plans.
"Tripod kept pulling on my gown getting me out and I said, "˜honey, please go on, go on,' and she wouldn't do it," said the elderly woman. "She stayed right with me the entire time."
The Smiths escaped the fire without injury, and Tripod was treated to pedicure and massage from a local dog groomer as a reward for her heroism.
Penny, the Retriever who Retrieved
Brenda Owen was walking her labrador retriever Penny by the Elwy River in St. Asaph, Wales about a month ago when she spotted a wheelchair on the shore and a body in the water. She shouted, "Fetch!" and Penny did. She jumped into the water and dragged the woman back to the riverbank, where a man helped her. The victim was injured and unconscious, and was taken to a hospital. She had been reported missing from a nearby home.
This is by no means an all-inclusive list, as dogs makes headlines for heroism at an astounding rate. I excluded the most famous dogs to bring you stories that aren't as well known. If you liked this story, you might also enjoy Five Famous Felines, 6 Assorted Animal Adventures, or Animals that Only Bite Tourists.