Mankind has always had a close affinity with its canine friends, one that goes back thousands of years. While we all enjoy the companionship and unquestioning loyalty that our dogs give, there are some that are genuine heroes in every sense of the word. From the mountain rescue efforts of St Bernards, to Labradors helping the blind. To celebrate these awesome pooches, ADAPT’s guest blogger Sally Writes has discovered some of the most famous canine heroes who’ve risked their own lives for others.
As Warm as Velvet
When three climbers became stranded on Mount Hood, Oregon, US, their survival depended on a black Labrador named Velvet.
The climbers had set out on a cold but clear Saturday with a group of friends from the Portland, Oregon area for a weekend trek to tackle the state’s tallest mountain. The ascent went to plan but on reaching the summit, a storm blew in and soon, it was snowing heavily.
One of the party, Trevor Liston, could only watch on in horror as his friend Matty Bryant along with two other team members and Bryant’s dog Velvet, slipped and disappeared over an icy ledge. Liston and the remainder of the team tried to locate their companions to no avail, and it was not till the following morning that Portland Mountain Rescue found the missing climbers. Rescuers are certain that it was the dog’s body heat that saved the climbers lives, as they hunkered down for the night in 70mph winds at more than 11,000 feet.
German Shepherd Cross Saves Animal Conservationists
Humans aren’t the only ones who can think quickly and act heroically when severe weather strikes. Shana, a German Shepherd/Wolf mix, reportedly saved her owners, Eve and Norman Fertig, both of whom were in their 80s, from a sudden blizzard that hit upstate New York in 2006.
Norm and Eve Fertig, who run a wildlife sanctuary in Alden, NY, had been tending to animals on the property when a huge blizzard blew in. Trees were blown down, and the elderly couple found themselves trapped between outbuildings, huddling for warmth and cover as best they could. At this point, Shana, their German shepherd cross, arrived on the scene. She dug a path through the snow, then began to dig beneath the fallen tree. The Fertig’s looked on in astonishment as the dog spent two hours gradually creating a tunnel. She then pulled them through the tunnel, under the tree and through a gap in the fence to home and safety. Shana then used her body heat to keep her owners warm till the storm passed and electricity came on. Eve later told reporters: “She kept us alive. She really did.”
Watch National Geographic’s short documentary on a soldier who adopted the dog that saved him in combat:
Sled Dog Heroes
The huskies who work in the frozen north are well known for their stamina and bravery, but one particular dog came to international attention in the 1920s. A life-threatening epidemic had broken out in Nome, Alaska, and the dogs were the only hope of getting medical supplies to the stricken community in time. In what became known as the ‘1925 Serum run to Nome‘, a Husky called Balto lead a team of dogs on a month-long 674 mile mission in the blizzard conditions where temperatures plummeted to -45° C.
After completing the journey successfully, Balto became a film star and featured in a locally-made short entitled “Balto’s Race To Nome.”