I compiled this list for the Ellen DeGeneres show and suggested they ask their audience to vote (with cheers) for the Top Pet Hero of 2007. Which would you choose? All these stories were featured in our PETS category, under FAMILY LIFE. (right, Oscar the cat senses when nursing home patients will die)
10) Shepherd Rescues Crash Victim by the Collar
A stray German Shepherd dragged a bloodied woman up to the highway, and let her lean against him so she could flag a passing motorist, after her car careened down an embankment 50 yards distant. The dog, renamed HERO, was taken to a shelter where numerous people wanted to adopt it. A dog trainer has agreed to see if he has the right stuff for search and rescue work.
9) Dog Saves Owner from the Same Fire Twice
An abused stray dog adopted by an Idaho City resident turned out to be twice a hero, saving Candace Jennings a second time from a raging house fire in the middle of the night after Jennings risked her life to go back into the home to get keys belonging to other people.
8) Cat Saves Entire Family From Poisonous Gas
A 14-year-old Indiana cat saved a family whose home was filling with deadly — though odorless — carbon monoxide while they slept. In the middle of the night, Winnie the wonder cat jumped up and down wildly, while screeching madly, to spur the family into action. Their son was already unconscious, while the mom through her dizziness reached the phone to dial 911.
7) Dog Saves Woman’s Life With Heimlich Maneuver
A woman was in danger of choking to death alone in her Maryland residence when her golden retriever came to the rescue. “Toby suddenly got up on his hind legs, pushed her to the ground and began jumping up and down on her chest. Incredibly, his efforts succeeded.”
6) Firefighters Rally to Save Exhausted Horse From Mud Pit
A frightened horse was saved by a team of firefighters in Oregon, who comforted the mare by administering oxygen and using portable lamps to warm the shivering animal. They fashioned a sling and used their manpower to pull the huge animal from the mudhole.
5) Cat Walks 4 Months to Return to Owner
A New Zealand cat traveled 93 miles on its own, crossed a river and journeyed for four months to be with her owner after disappearing while on a family holiday last October. “In what was surely an astonishing feat of navigation, Molly (who wore no tags) somehow found her way back to the home in Hamilton she had lived in for only three weeks.”
4) Jessica the Hippo, A Most Unusual Family Pet
Although hippos kill more humans than any other mammal in Africa, Jessica the hippopotamus has become part of the family in a South African home, even roaming into the kitchen for a snack. She eats with the family’s dogs before going up river to cavort with a pod of wild hippos. She always returns home to the game warden, who found her washed up after a flood when she was only one day old. (YouTube Video)
3) Cat Senses Final Hours of Elderly Patients
I came across a wonderful story about a cat who snuggles up beside citizens of a nursing home four hours before they die. It’s happened so often that nurses now know when to call family members and let them know when their loved ones are near death. (Oscar’s story was written up in the New England Journal of Medicine)
2) Golden Retriever Nurses Stray Kitten
Honey, a golden retriever from Virginia, hadn’t given birth in 18 months, but the cries of Precious, an orphaned kitten, made her a mother again.
1) Cat Sniffs Out Cancer in Owners Breast
Can cats and dogs predict the onset of serious illness prior to diagnosis? Lynda’s cat began kneading her left breast insistently without stopping. Unbeknownst to the Denver woman, the exact placement of her cat’s affection was a cancerous tumor. Because of the cat, she took a closer look at the area and discovered a lump, and within days had undergone surgery in both breasts. (Since then, Lynda, a cafe owner has designed a new coffee with proceeds going to breast cancer patients in need. It’s called Bald Lady Coffee!)