Stories of bravery -- a tribute to the unsung heroes among us.
We live among heroes, see them every day and never remark on their special qualities.
Recent events have me dwelling on dogs, and all they do for us. For those of you who don’t know, my beautiful mastiff bitch, star of my hub “Diva tells all,” Canadian Champion, and my good companion was diagnosed with bone cancer a few weeks ago, and hasn’t long to live. I’m keeping her comfortable with pain killers and anti-inflammatory medication, but she diminishes each day before my eyes.
I’ve lots of time to dwell on what a good dog she has been, how much she means to me and how devoted she is. She is by my side at all times. Anyone wanting to hurt me would have to get through her, and even now, when my sadness at her imminent demise brings me melancholy, her nose creeps under my hand to comfort me – she is that attuned to my emotional state.
For any of you who haven’t seen her and would like to, the link to her hub is at the end of this section.
My train of thought brought to mind a now famous photograph of a search-and-rescue dog lying quiet and calm as he is lowered by basket into the ruins of the World Trade Center following the attacks of 9/11. To me, no other picture speaks more of the dedication, courage and loyalty than this. Humans couldn’t safely go where this dog was headed in that desperate search for survivors.
I’ve licensed a copy of it for this hub – my tribute to those unsung heroes, man’s best friend, and the first species to share our lives – dogs.
We take them for granted. They are everywhere and commonplace, and we don’t bother to wonder at their abilities, their acute senses, their intelligence or the special place they hold in our history. We trust our children to their care, our handicapped to their assistance, the safety of our home and lives to their vigilance.
Some of them give their all, even their lives for us.
Join me as we look at just a few of these great heroes – dogs.
The Dogs of War
Today I found a wonderful story on CNN. It’s one of those warm fuzzy stories, about a missing dog returned to his beloved human. But this story had a twist.
Australian Special Forces explosive detector canine missing in action for one year, found alive and well.
Sabi, a black lab was a bomb sniffer with the Australian Special Forces in Afghanistan – MIA for a year. This dog managed somehow to survive on her own for a full year after she was separated from her unit. She was nearing the end of her second tour of duty in September of 2008 when an army convoy of Australian, American and Afghan troops was attacked. Nine Australians were wounded including Sabi’s handler.
It was a year later when a U.S. soldier (whose name is withheld) found her wandering near an isolated patrol base in the southern province of Oruzgan. He said he knew she was not a stray, and had heard the Aussies were missing an explosive detection dog and put two and two together.
She was flown to the Australian base of Tarin Kowt and reunited with her handler. If she passes a veterinary assessment to make sure she is free of disease she will be cleared to return home.
One of the many heroes of Vietnam
Buddha, (tag# 4A82) a German shepherd, bravely served his country in Viet Nam for six and a half years. During his service, he partnered eight different handlers, all of whom lived to return to their U.S. lives and families, no doubt due in part to Buddha.
He was trained to recognize booby traps, mines, tunnels and weapon caches.
He was wounded five times.
He had five confirmed kills in close combat.
He dragged wounded soldiers to safety.
He warned his platoon when danger was nearby.
The Viet Cong put a price on his head.
He protected and saved the lives of uncountable numbers of American servicemen.
And in thanks for his service, the military leaders awarded him the death penalty.
America’s war dogs prevented over 10,000 casualties in Vietnam alone. And at the end, these hero dogs were declared “surplus armaments” and euthanized.
Finally, and long overdue, America’s Dogs of War now have a memorial. Please visit this site for some remarkable photographs of these brave dogs in action. There is a special section for those dogs who served in Viet Nam. http://www.wtv-zone.com/infchoice/wardogs.html
A Canadian hero in the Pacific theater of WW II
Gander, a Newfoundland dog, big, black and hairy served with the First Battalion of the Royal Rifles, Canadian Army. He sailed from Vancouver on October 27, 1941 and disembarked with his unit to defend Hong Kong’s beaches. The Japanese invaded on December 8, 1941. The Canadians were poorly equipped and outnumbered but engaged in 17 ½ days of furious fighting, known as the battle of Hong Kong.
Buddha was reported to have attacked the enemy three times, rushing the invaders, biting at their legs and barking furiously. He diverted them from their direct course saving a group of injured soldiers hiding not far behind him from death or capture.
But it was his last act of bravery that earned him fame. Pinned down under intense fire and unable to move, a group of Royal Rifles waited to die when a grenade landed in their midst. Gander picked up the grenade and ran away with it, sacrificing his life and saving those of his companions.
Police Dogs -- they protect us all
My own words are inadequate to pay tribute to the working dogs of our police departments. In my younger years, along with my mastiffs, I bred Labradors in my kennel, and several of them went to work for the City of Calgary Police Force and the RCMP as “sniffers,” trained to detect drugs, accelerants in arson investigation, explosives – anything really. I grew to know the officers who worked as dog handlers very well, particularly the RCMP officers in my local town.
Let the words of others express my admiration for these dogs and their handlers with far more fitting grace than my skills could ever do.
"The Working Dog"
My eyes are your eyes,
To watch and protect yours.
My ears are your ears ,
To hear and detect evil minds in the dark.
My nose is your nose,
To scent the invader of your domain.
And so you may live, my life is also yours.
"Called To Give My All"
I am a
deputy in a canine crew.
I've been trained to see it through.
When danger's near my ears perk up,
they taught me that as a little pup.
I'm often there to protect your rights,
my presence sometimes hinders fights.
I never attack with thought to kill,
when subduing one, my job I fill.
I never worry a single thought,
as to how I'll fare at a certain spot.
The love I have for a handler's care,
is all I need, each day to fare.
And if some day my luck turns bad,
I'll relish all the joys I've had.
To be with men who stand for
good, in a special kind of brotherhood.
The story's end by now you know,
of how I tried for a better show.
I did my best, though I did fall,
when I was called and gave my all.
Here is a list of those brave police dogs in the United States and Canada who were called to give their all in service to mankind.
K9 Diogi- Polk County, FL
K9 Dakota- Puyallup Police Department, WA
K9 Nitro- Vancouver City Police Dept, BC Canada
K9 Arco- Indianapolis Police Dept. IN
K9 Vasko- St. Lucie Sheriff’s Dept. FL
K9 Klief- Salenas, CA
K9 Gero - Grand Junction, CO
K9 Faro - Norfolk, VA
K9 Rik - Bonneville, ID
K9 Rudy - Oxnard, CA
K9 Rudy - Las Vegas, NV
K9 Buddy - Bremerton, WA
K9 Shierkhan - Seattle, WA
K9 Atlas - Miami, FL
Charlie - Conway, AR
K9 Ismar- Leesville, LA
K9 Copper- Morganville, KS
K9 Quanto - Jacksonville, FL
K9 Titan Jacksonville, FL
K9 Sabre - Lansing, MI
K9 Callahan - St. Paul, MN
K9 Caesar - Edmonton, Alberta
K9 Laser - St. Paul, MN
K9 Solo - Monmouth County, NJ
K9 Aron - Nashville, TN
K9 Jake - Minneapolis, MN
R.C.M.P. PSD Chip - R.C.M.P., BC
K9 Ralph - North Lauderdale, FL
K9 Rondo - Vallejo, CA
K9 Kai - Bannock County Sheriff, ID
K9 Ajax - Lake County, IN
K9 Hondo - Hillsboro, OR
K9 Iron - Norfolk, VA
K9 Andy - Burlington, NC
K9 Zeiko - New Orleans, LA
K9 Rebel - Prince Georges, MD
K9 Sony - Ventura, CA
K9 Ward - Lewis County, WA
K9 Gero- Gainesville, FL
K9 Murph - Tempe Police, AZ
K9 Bear - Illinois State Police
K9 Ando - Indianapolis, IN
K9 Zack - King County, WA
K9 Liberty - Culver City, CA
K9 Billy - Sacramento, CA
K9 Marko - Los Angeles, CA
K9 Lucky - Clark County, WA
K9 Kim - Huntington Beach, CA
K9 Star - Kansas City, MO
K9 Rocco - Roselle, IL
K9 A-Axe - Osceola County, FL
K9 Hunter - Phoenix, AZ
"K9Atlas" - Special Dedication
"Shadow" - Special Dedication
"Sino" - Special Dedication
PSD Cindy - Royal Canadian Mounted Police, BC.
And then there are those 'civilian' heroes
Dboy a pitbull terrier saved his family in Oklahoma City. The Trawick family tells a harrowing story of a terrifying invasion of their home. A gun toting man broke into their house. Dboy came bounding to defend his home and people. He took three bullets – two to the head, but he still managed to fight enough to scare the intruder away. He survived and went on to receive honors – the People’s hero award in the Humane Society’s Annual Dogs of Valor Awards.
Ace, a search and rescue dog of indeterminate breed, (but with a good dollop of Great Dane, I would think) also received honors in December, 2008 when he saved the life of an Ontario woman, finding her buried in a snowbank after being missing for three days. Although she required treatment for hypothermia, she lived, thanks to Ace, and was able to spend the holidays with her family.
Here's one of my favorites, from Australia.
Blue, a blue-heeler, fought an aligator who threatened an 85 year old woman, who lay helpless after falling. Yes, that's right -- he took on an aligator, suffering considerable injury. The woman was saved by his heroic action, but unable to move. It was over an hour before her daughter arrived, to be met by a wounded and agitated Blue, who led her to her mother. Both the elderly woman and the dog were treated in their respective medical facilities and both survived.
Tank and Much, a Rottweiler cross and a Staffordshire bull terrier, saved the life of a two-year-old boy from the neighborhood, when he fell into the reservoir of a dam. They entered the water and dragged the boy out, setting him on the bank, and then barking until a nearby resident came out to investigate. The little boy was fine, though he did suffer some scratches from the dogs during the rescue. Both dogs received bravery awards.
Jango, a golden retriever annoyed the man of the house immensely one night with his frantic barking and scratching at the bedroom door. He got up to quiet the dog, opened the door and found the house full of smoke. He rushed to his son’s room, only to find the boy unconscious. Jango led them both through the smoke filled house, and a passing police officer called the fire department. Dad and son went to the hospital for treatment for smoke inhalation, where Mom joined them. Jango went to a different hospital for his treatment, but the family all survived. Jango received a medal for bravery.
And my favorite hero of all,
Tess, a 220 pound mastiff bitch, saved her owner – me – from a beating at the hands of a drunk. Tess was the great grandmother to the dogs that live with me today. She was unique in temperament, considering herself my equal, and would punish me by pinching my flesh between her front teeth if I disrespected her. It wasn’t uncommon for me to have a few black and blue marks on my thighs from her corrections. I loved her to bits, and apparently in spite of all the education she had to give me, she felt the same.
One day, a woman came to my kennel with a Labrador, asking for emergency boarding, but I wasn’t to let anyone but her pick up the dog. She was so visibly upset; I offered her tea. She told me her story. Her daughter, seven months pregnant was in the hospital following a beating from her husband, and in danger of losing her baby. The dog had been brought to me, because her daughter was worried the dog was next in line for a beating, and not for the first time.
Well, you guessed it. No sooner had I checked on the dog, after the woman left, than I heard a crash as the kennel office door flew open. In he walked, greasy long hair sticking out of his John Deere cap, and reeking of rye whiskey.
“Get me my f***king dog,” he ordered.
“I don’t have your dog. I’ve never seen you before in my life,” I said.
He reached across the counter, grabbed me by my shirt, punched me in the back, hard and then, thrust his fist into my face. He ordered me, once again to get his dog, “cause there’s nothing I’d like better than to mess up your face.”
“Okay, okay,” I said, trying to placate him. “I’ll go get him.”
I went outside to an eerie quiet. Not one dog barked. How do they know when things are wrong? I wondered. But I didn’t get the poor Labrador. I got Tess, thinking the very sight of her 225 pounds would scare him off.
She knew. She felt my fear. By the time I opened the kennel office door, she was bristling.
The man was lurching about the office, sweeping my dog show pictures off the wall, onto the floor and stomping on them.
Tess let out a roar like nothing I’d ever heard. She leaped to him, knocked him to the floor with her bulk, and stood over him, growling and slathering in his face.
His voice suddenly jumped six octaves, and in a high pitched squeal he begged, “Get it off me! Get it off me!”
He tried to slide out from under her. She reached down, took a mouthful of his jacket, lifted him off the floor and shook him, like a terrier would a mouse. He urinated, soaking his pants.
By this time, I was scared. I’d never seen my dog like this, and I was afraid of the consequences to her if she hurt him. I went over to her, put my hand on her collar and spoke soothingly to her. Finally, she let me lead her away.
I told him to get out, and not to come back because I had four more just like her. (Which was a lie; I only had two.) He left.
After that, I called the RCMP and told them the story. I gave them the mother-in-law’s name, and they sighed. They knew him. They went out to her home and found him there, pounding on her door and demanding his child.
When they confronted him about the assault on me, he told them I’d set a bear on him.
I had bruises on my back, on my upper arm and marks on my neck from how tight he’d twisted my shirt on my throat.
Like a good mastiff, Tess had incapacitated him, controlled him, but didn’t leave a mark on him. She could have killed him in the wink of an eye -- she was that powerful, but had controlled her rage.
She was my hero, and if I had a medal to give her, I would