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10 Stories of Lifesaving Dogs

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He's unbelievable! He's some dog! He's a lifesaver! That's what l'll call him, too! Ol' Lifesaver! That will be your name! -Navin R. Johnson in The Jerk

Dogs are wonderful. They are goofy and fun and smart and dedicated. Most of the time, they are just fun to be around, but when the situation calls for it, some dogs go above and beyond the call of duty. Out of many, many heroic dog tales, here are ten dogs who recently saved someone's life. That's a good dog.

1. Naida the Siberian Lifeguard

Four-year-old Andrei Pavlov was feeding ducks near his home in Krasnoyarsk, Russia, when he fell through the ice into the freezing water of a pond. A stray dog named Naida immediately began barking frantically. Naida had followed Andrei around that day, which Andrei's mother says shows the dog had a premonition of trouble. A woman who feeds the stray dogs of the Siberian city responded to Naida's barking and followed the dog back to the pond. Nearby workers helped her pull the boy out of the freezing water. Andrei spent a few days in the hospital recovering. Naida was adopted by a family that lives 500 km away. The canine adoption was arranged before the near-drowning incident, and the new owners are particularly proud of Naida's heroism.

2. Treo the Bomb-sniffer

Treo is a retired member of the British military, and a decorated war hero. The black Labrador was a member of the 104 Military Working Dog Support Unit and served in Afghanistan. There, the trained sniffer twice found hidden bombs in Helmand province in 2008. Treo was awarded the Dickin Medal, the highest military honor for an animal in Britain, in 2010. Sgt. Dave Heyhoe was Treo's handler in the military, and the two served together in Northern Ireland before being shipped to Afghanistan. When both completed their military service, Treo went home to live with Heyhoe, who said Treo's action saved the lives of many soldiers.

3. Max the Canine Shield

Osmar Persisco of Garibaldi, Brazil, took his dog Max out for exercise in a field and was approached by two robbers who demanded his car keys. When Persisco declined, they shot him, grazing the man's head. That's when Max went into action, jumping up to attack the two men. One ran away immediately, the other shot Max twice in the chest and once in the leg before fleeing himself. Persisco rushed his protector to the vet, where Max was successfully treated for his injuries.

4. Bandit the Smoke Alarm

The DeStefani family of Mays Landing, New Jersey, owe their lives to a small Pomeranian-poodle mix that wasn't even their dog! They were watching Bandit while her owner, Marta DeGennaro, was out of town. Rich DeStefani had put a hairbrush into boiling water to sterilize it, then forgot the pot on the stove when the family went to bed for the night. By 3:30AM, the water was gone and the burning plastic filled the house with toxic smoke. Newly-purchased smoke detectors did not go off. But Bandit jumped up on Jennifer DeStefani as she slept until she awoke and alerted her husband and 9-year-old daughter. One smoke detector finally sounded an alarm- after the fire department arrived! The fire was limited to the stove, but the home sustained serious smoke damage. And Bandit was hailed as a hero.

5. Target the War Hero

Georgia National Guardsman Chris Duke credits three stray dogs he befriended in Afghanistan with saving his life -and the lives of his entire unit. The dogs, Sasha, Rufus, and Target, raised an alarm as a suicide bomber approached their barracks. The dogs attacked and bit the bomber, who blew himself up before gaining entrance. Sasha was so wounded she had to be put down. The other two recovered from their injuries. When Duke returned to the US, he told the story of the dogs left behind, which led to a fund-raising effort that successfully brought Rufus and Target to the United States. Rufus went to live with Chris Duke, and Target went to the home of Sgt. Terry Young, another survivor of the incident, in Arizona.

Target was not used to being confined. In November of 2010, she escaped from her yard. Someone reported the loose dog, and Target was picked up by animal control. Sgt. Young checked the shelter's website and found the dog, and paid the fine online on a Friday. On Monday, he went to retrieve Target and discovered she had been euthanized by mistake. Target is memorialized at her Facebook page.

6. Buddy the GPS Dog

Ben Heinrichs of Caswell Lakes, Alaska, suffered burns on his face and hand when a spark from a heater ignited gasoline in his car repair shop. Heinrichs ran out and rolled in the snow to extinguish the flames, then went back to make sure his dog Buddy escaped from the burning garage. He told the German shepherd to go get help, and Buddy took off. Heinrichs said the dog had no special training, but just knew what needed to be done. Emergency services received a call about the fire, but responding State Trooper Terrence Shanigan couldn't find the garage because his GPS system wasn't working properly. But he saw a frantic dog and followed him on a hunch.

A video shot by the trooper's dashboard camera shows Buddy trotting along the side of the road coming toward the officer, then looking at the vehicle and breaking into a run as Shanigan follows. The dog runs ahead of the patrol vehicle and takes a left turn, ending up at the burning structure.

The workshop was destroyed, but firefighters saved Heinrichs' nearby home. For his actions, Buddy was honored at a hero's ceremony from the Alaska State Police.

7. Kiko the Biter

You wouldn't think that the act of biting off a man's toe would be a lifesaving act, but that's exactly what happened to Jerry Douthett of Rockford, Michigan. Douthett had been nursing trouble with a toe for months, but hadn't sought medical attention. The toe became infected, and Douthett's wife insisted he have it checked. Douthett agreed, but decided to bolster his courage first with several beers and two giant margaritas. His wife took him home where he passed out in bed. That's when his terrier, Kiko, took matters into his own hands. Or mouth, as it were. Kiko chewed most of Douthett's infected toe off as he slept. When he awoke to find his toe gone, he could no longer put off a trip to the hospital. There, doctors found Douthett's blood sugar to be a dangerously high 560 -when it should be below 120. They also amputated what was left of his toe, since the infection went down to the bone. Douthett's undiagnosed diabetes probably caused him to not feel his toe being chewed off. He considered putting Kiko down for his actions, but after considering that the dog inadvertently saved his life, Douthett decided against euthanization. Meanwhile, Douthett is receiving treatment for diabetes, and has sworn off alcohol. But he now wears shoes to bed, just in case.

8. Hero the Fire Alarm

Wendy Rankin of Brackenridge, Pennsylvania has a dog named Hero. After Hero was injured in a traffic accident, Rankin had to make a choice of whether to put her down. The family decided to do what they could to save their dog, which gave Hero an opportunity to live up to her name a few months later. In February, Hero started barking at 3AM, which is very unusual for her. The family woke to find their home on fire! Everyone escaped, but the home was destroyed. The Rankin family credits their survival to Hero.

9. Angel the Cougar Fighter

Eleven-year-old Austin Forman of Boston Bar, British Columbia, was saved from a wild cougar by his golden retriever Angel. Austin noticed the dog acting differently on that day, sticking close to him as if she knew of some hidden danger -which was only apparent to humans after the attack. He was gathering firewood in his family's backyard when a cougar charged. Angel leapt into action, fighting the cougar while Austin ran into the house. Austin's mother Sherri Forman called 911 as the battle between cat and dog raged under the backyard deck. A constable in the neighborhood responded quickly and killed the cougar. Angel suffered some deep bites and scratches and was taken to the Sardis Animal Hospital. As she recovered, Austin bought her a big steak for her bravery.

10. Yogi the Valor Dog of the Year

The Humane Society of the United States named Yogi, a golden retriever, the 2011 Valor Dog of the Year for saving his owner's life after a bicycle accident. Paul Horton of Austin, Texas, went over the handlebars on his mountain bike and landed on his head. When he regained consciousness, Yogi was by his side. Horton whispered for Yogi to get help. The dog, reluctant to leave, finally went to the main road and barked at neighbors who were walking by. Bruce and Maggie Tate know Yogi and had never seen him act so frantic, so they followed him back to the place where Horton lay immobile. Doctors found that Horton's vertebrae had pinched his spinal cord, leaving him paralyzed from the chest down. They credit Yogi with saving Horton's life. Horton has since regained some sensation, and has limited use of his arms. And Yogi is still his best friend.

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10 Famous Birthdays in May
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Some of our favorite historical figures were born in May. We couldn't possibly name them all, so here are just a few of the notable people we'll be celebrating.

1. SIGMUND FREUD: MAY 6, 1856

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Sigmund Freud is known as the Father of Psychoanalysis. The Vienna psychiatrist developed a theory of the unconscious mind, where the id, ego, and superego struggle to balance each other out in the human psyche. Freud attributed his patients' neuroses to childhood trauma, often cloaked in a sexual conflict. His work was at first deemed perverted, but his ideas started to spread after a series of lectures in the U.S. in 1909. After Freud's death in 1939, Freudian theory was hailed as genius in mainstream culture. But beginning in the 1960s, Freud's theories started to fall out of favor in academia and are largely discredited today. However, his attempts to map the psyche gave us the language we still use to discuss personality and mental health.

2. FRED ASTAIRE: MAY 10, 1899

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Fred Astaire began dancing when he was just four years old. Soon he and his sister Adele were in a performing arts school and started dancing professionally. First came vaudeville, then Broadway, and when Adele married, Fred headed to Hollywood. Producers were at first reluctant to cast Astaire as a leading man because of his looks, but his dancing soon won them over. Astaire appeared in dozens of films between 1933 and 1981, 10 of them with with dance partner Ginger Rogers. Although his later films did not revolve around dance numbers, Astaire was seen dancing in an episode of Battlestar Galactica as late as 1979, when he was 80 years old.

3. MARTHA GRAHAM: MAY 11, 1894

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Martha Graham wanted to dance from an early age, but her parents disapproved, so she didn't study dance until college. Her wildly emotional dancing led her to performances in New York, and in 1926 she established the Martha Graham Dance Company. Through the company, Graham promoted modern dance as a spiritual and emotional outlet. Over time, she came to be seen as a genius of the genre. Graham danced until she was in her '70s, and continued to choreograph dances until her death at age 91.

4. KATHARINE HEPBURN: MAY 12, 1907

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Katharine Hepburn caught the acting bug in college and headed to the stages of New York upon graduation. She was spotted in a Broadway production and was offered the lead in RKO's 1932 film A Bill of Divorcement. That kicked off a movie career of more than 60 years, in which she was nominated for 12 Academy Awards and won four. Hepburn was a certified box office draw, but off screen she refused to behave like a Hollywood star. She spoke her mind, wore pants, and even appeared in public without makeup occasionally. Hepburn was also known for her devotion to the love of her life, actor Spencer Tracy, who was separated from his wife but refused to divorce her. The last of nine films they made together was Guess Who's Coming to Dinner in 1967, just before Tracy died. Hepburn continued making movies through 1994, when she was 87 years old.

5. PIERRE CURIE: MAY 15, 1859

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French physicist Pierre Curie is often overlooked in favor of Marie Curie, his brilliant student and later wife. Together they discovered radium and polonium, and did extensive research into radioactivity. Pierre, Marie, and Henri Becquerel jointly won the 1903 Nobel Prize in Physics for their research. Curie might have gone onto many further discoveries, but he was killed in 1906 when a horse-drawn cart ran over him in Paris. If he had lived longer, Curie might have also succumbed to illness caused by radiation, as did his wife, daughter, and son-in-law—all Nobel Prize winners.

6. MARY CASSATT: MAY 22, 1844

Mary Cassatt via Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Wikimedia Commons // Public Domain

Renowned American painter Mary Cassatt wanted to become an artist, but her parents objected and her Philadelphia art school didn't take women students seriously. So she went to Paris and studied privately under teachers from Ecole des Beaux-Arts, as the school did not admit women. Gradually, Cassatt's works sold and her reputation grew. She drew the attention of Impressionist Edgar Degas, and worked with him for years. By 1886, she left the Impressionist movement behind, and afterward refused to be defined by any art genre. Cassatt's body of work often featured women and children in their everyday lives. Her most memorable painting, Little Girl in a Blue Armchair, broke with tradition by portraying a child in a naturalistic, casual pose instead of a formal portrait.

7. SIR ARTHUR CONAN DOYLE: MAY 22, 1859

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Arthur Conan Doyle is best remembered for his many short stories and novels featuring the detective Sherlock Holmes. But Conan Doyle worked full time as a medical doctor until an illness convinced him he had to choose between writing and medicine. Years later, Conan Doyle volunteered with the British army to fight in the Second Boer War, but because of his age (40), he was only allowed to serve as a medical doctor. Upon his return from South Africa, he entered politics in Scotland, but he lost his only race. In 1907, Conan Doyle became involved in a real criminal case in which he helped George Edalji, a solicitor of Indian heritage, beat an animal cruelty conviction by employing the observational technique that Sherlock Holmes used. The fallout from that case led to the establishment of the appeals system in Britain. Conan Doyle also wrote a science fiction novel The Lost World, published in 1912. It was so successful that he wrote four sequels.

8. MARGARET FULLER: MAY 23, 1810

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Born in Massachusetts in 1810, Margaret Fuller was a precocious child who learned several languages but was not welcome at college because of her sex. She became friends with both Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, who admired her philosophical thinking. Fuller became a literary critic for the New-York Tribune and a well-known intellectual.

In 1845, Fuller made history with Woman in the Nineteenth Century, often considered the first major feminist work published in the United States. This groundbreaking book began as an essay in Emerson's transcendentalist journal The Dial called "The Great Lawsuit. Man versus Men. Woman versus Women," in which Fuller argued that men and women must see each other as equals before they can transcend to divine love. Fuller reasoned that ignoring our commonality was the base of much of America's sins, from the slaughter of Native Americans to the slavery of African Americans.

Fuller went on to become a foreign correspondent and the first American female war correspondent, covering the Italian revolution. She also fell in love with an Italian man and had a child with him. On their return trip to the U.S. in 1850 aboard a merchant ship, a hurricane struck the ship near Fire Island, killing all three. Only Fuller's 20-month-old son was found.

9. SALLY RIDE: MAY 26, 1951

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In 1983, Sally Ride became the first American woman to travel into space, aboard the space shuttle Challenger. Ride was a nationally ranked tennis player when she was a teenager. Billie Jean King urged her to turn pro, but Ride went to Stanford University instead. She earned both a bachelor of arts in English and a bachelor of science in physics in 1973, and a PhD in physics in 1978. Ride then immediately applied for NASA's astronaut program. She flew two shuttle missions, in 1983 and '84, and was scheduled for a third, but that mission was canceled after the Challenger explosion in 1986. After leaving NASA in 1987, Ride devoted her life to encouraging students to study science—especially girls. She founded the organization Sally Ride Science for just that purpose, and wrote five children's books encouraging interest in science. Ride died of cancer at age 61 in 2012.

10. "WILD BILL" HICKOK: MAY 27, 1837

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James Butler Hickok was a farmer, soldier, stagecoach driver, spy, lawman, scout, sharpshooter, gambler, and Wild West showman. Many of those occupations came after "Wild Bill" Hickok gained publicity for killing three men in an 1861 shootout. The newspapers followed his exploits from that time on, often embellishing the details until Hickok was more of a legend than the adventurer he was. His various occupations took him to different parts of Kansas, Nebraska, Missouri, Wyoming, and South Dakota. Hickok was playing poker in Deadwood, South Dakota, when Jack McCall shot him in the back of the head and killed him in 1876. The hand Hickok was holding at the time—a pair of black aces and a pair of black eights—became known as the "dead man's hand."

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9 Bizarre Food Museums
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Idaho Potato Museum via Facebook

What’s your favorite food? Chances are, there’s a museum dedicated to it somewhere. You might want to include one or more of these museums in your next vacation road trip.  

1. JELL-O GALLERY // LEROY, NEW YORK

Pearle Wait of LeRoy, New York, invented a fruit-flavored gelatin dessert in 1897 that he wife named Jell-O. Appropriately, the town is home to the Jell-O Gallery, a museum dedicated to the gelatin that took America by storm. Visitors will learn the history of Jell-O, see memorabilia and advertising from Jell-O history, and learn about cooking in the past century. The museums operated by the non-profit LeRoy Historical Society, and is not supported by Kraft/General Foods, which owns Jell-O. The museum is open seven days a week through December, and weekdays January through March.    

2. THE SPAM MUSEUM // AUSTIN, MINNESOTA

The Hormel company has its headquarters in Austin, Minnesota, a few miles south of Minneapolis. That’s also the home of the Spam Museum. Hormel opened a small company museum in the local mall in 1991, but quickly found that all their visitors cared about was Spam, so now that classic canned meat has its own building downtown. Exhibits include the history of Spam, cooking demonstrations, Spam memorabilia, and a soundtrack from Monty Python.

3. INTERNATIONAL BANANA MUSEUM // NORTH SHORE, CALIFORNIA

In 2005, the International Banana Club Museum was named by the Guinness Book of World Records as the “most items devoted to any one fruit in the world.” The IBC Museum was established by Ken Bannister and the club in 1975, and amassed its collection of 17,000 banana items from club members who gained “banana merits.” The collection was sold in 2010 and is now the International Banana Museum. It is open Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.   

4. WYANDOT POPCORN MUSEUM // MARION, OHIO

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Marion, Ohio, is the self-proclaimed Popcorn Capital of the World, due to the existence of the Wyandot Popcorn Company, which was based in the area since the 1930s. The company now focuses on chips, but its legacy is enshrined in the Wyandot Popcorn Museum, which boasts an extensive collection of restored antique popcorn poppers. These commercial poppers range from movie theater models to snack wagons to factory poppers, some over 100 years old. The museum shares space with the Wyandot Historical Society in the town’s historic former post office building. The museum is open Wednesday through Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. through October, and weekends only the rest of the year.  

5. NATIONAL DAIRY SHRINE MUSEUM // FORT ATKINSON, WISCONSIN

The National Dairy Shrine is a professional group formed in 1949 promote the milk industry. The National Dairy Shrine Museum is a place to learn about all facets of the dairy industry, from the history of midwest dairy farmers to the production of butter, ice cream, cheese, and other products. The Shrine also has educational programs, a Hall of Fame honoring leaders in the industry, scholarships and internships, and more. The museum is open Tuesday through Saturday from 9:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

6. NATIONAL MUSTARD MUSEUM // MIDDLETON, WISCONSIN

Barry Levenson was once Wisconsin’s Assistant Attorney General, but his real passion is mustard. He’s been collecting different mustards since 1986, and eventually left his law career completely to devote his time to the Mount Horeb Mustard Museum he founded in 1992. In 2000, the growing museum moved to its permanent location in Middleton and became the National Mustard Museum. There you can see 5,624 different mustards and a collection of mustard memorabilia. The museum is open 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week. Admission is free, as the museum is supported by donations and mustard sales.   

7. INTERNATIONAL VINEGAR MUSEUM // ROSLYN, SOUTH DAKOTA

International Vinegar Museum via Facebook

The world’s only vinegar museum was founded by Lawrence "Vinegarman" Diggs to showcase the many  varieties of vinegar and its many uses. The International Vinegar Museum has 350 different varieties of vinegar, a test kitchen, and vinegar tastings for visitors. The museum is open during the summer only. If you plan to visit Roslyn, the best time would be in June during the International Vinegar Festival.  

8. THE IDAHO POTATO MUSEUM // BLACKFOOT, IDAHO

Idaho Potato Museum via Facebook

Idaho produces more potatoes than any other state, so it only makes sense that they would have a museum dedicated to the state’s crop. The Idaho Potato Museum is housed in the historic Oregon Short Line Railroad Depot in Blackfoot. You’ll learn about potato history, growing potatoes, and the importance of potatoes to Idaho’s economy. The newest addition to the museum is the Potato Station Cafe, which specialized in French fries, of course. The Idaho Potato Museum is open six days a week from April through September, and weekdays from October through March.  

9. HARLAND SANDERS CAFÉ AND MUSEUM // CORBIN, KENTUCKY

Harland Sanders fed travelers at his gas station on Corbin, Kentucky, during the Great Depression, and then opened a restaurant, where he developed his method of pressure-frying chicken, which he breaded with 11 herbs and spices. Kentucky Fried Chicken grew out of that restaurant, which for a time had a motel attached. Sanders set up a sample hotel room inside the restaurant so that travelers could see what the rooms looked like before making the decision to stay. The motel is gone, but that restaurant was restored as the Harland Sanders Cafe and Museum, with many of the original artifacts, including the sample motel room. There is a modern KFC outlet attached. Some of the museum’s artifacts are displayed at the fast food unit, and you can sit down and eat your chicken in the museum.

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