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These amazing dogs have saved the lives of their owners, their partners and their pals. From alerting loved ones to danger to offering comfort and even dying in the line of duty, countless brave and loyal canines showed heroism this year. And as 2014 comes to a close, we're honoring them now.
The U.S. Secret Service credited two of its K9s with stopping a man who jumped the White House fence in October. The two Belgian Malinois dogs, Hurricane and Jordan, were released to stop Dominic Adesanya, 23. The suspect allegedly kicked and punched the K9 officers, which is a federal offense. He was charged with "unlawfully entering the restricted grounds of the White House" as well as "harming animals used on law enforcement.” The dogs were taken to a veterinarian to be examined after the incident. The vet found they had minor bruising, but they were declared “ready to work.” Jordan, the black and tan dog, is 5 years old and “enjoys walks around the White House,” the Secret Service tweeted with his photo. Hurricane, the black dog, age 6, “enjoys playing with his Kong toy.”
When veteran Terry McGlade starting having a seizure in the backyard of his Ohio home in May, his service dog sprang into action. Major, a Labrador Retriever and Pit Bull mix, pulled McGlade’s smartphone from his pocket and stepped on the screen. McGlade’s phone is programmed to dial 911 when Major does this for several seconds. Major did this multiple times, and dispatchers knew something must be wrong. The dog waited for help to arrive in the front yard of his home and guided the police to the backyard when they arrived. There, they found McGlade, who served with the Marines in both Iraq and Afghanistan, lying unconscious. Major is trained to help McGlade when he has seizures, and to help him cope with PTSD.
Greyhound Clobber knew something was wrong in his Indianapolis home — and he was determined to let his owner know. Erin Cramer was at home sick in March when she found Clobber, whom she’d adopted two months earlier, standing with his nose against an upstairs wall. She attempted to take him outside, but he pulled her right back inside and raced up the stairs as soon as she let him loose. Cramer couldn’t understand what Clobber was doing. Then she went into her laundry room, where she felt like she was hit by a “wall of gas.” It turned out that the hot water heater in the laundry room was leaking. Her plumber later told her it was also sparking. He said that if the gas fumes had ignited, it could have caused an explosion that would have taken down several homes. “If it wasn’t for [Clobber] coming into our lives, we probably wouldn’t be here right now,” Cramer said.
Sometimes, offering much-needed comfort can make you a hero to your best friend. Raina, a Rhodesian Ridgeback puppy, became a companion to cheetah cub Ruuxa, a San Diego Zoo Safari Park resident, in June. At the time, they were each about a month old. Dogs are often raised alongside cheetahs at zoos because they’re known to be a calming influence for the cats. So, in September, when Ruuxa needed surgery on his front legs for growth abnormalities, his keepers made sure to have Raina close by for support during the procedure. The pup was allowed near the cub when he was still sedated. "Raina appeared very concerned about Ruuxa when she saw he was sleeping and she couldn't wake him," said animal training manager Susie Ekard. "She licked him and nuzzled him, and when he awoke, she lay with him and seemed very content to know her cheetah was OK."
Last summer marked the first time that Nick Lamb, 13, was allowed to stay home alone while his mom was at work. Luckily, he had Ace, a 2-year-old Pit Bull, to watch out for him. Lamb is deaf and had taken out his cochlear implants on a July afternoon to nap. He woke to Ace licking his face, and at first, he thought the dog was just looking for food or to be let outside, but then Lamb smelled smoke. He quickly ran out of the house with his dog and called 911 and his mom. "It's amazing, because if [Ace] wouldn't have been there, he probably wouldn't have even woke up," said Lamb’s mother, Lindsay Bernard.
Kye, an Oklahoma City police K9, was fatally stabbed while helping his partner make an arrest during a burglary in August. Hundreds of mourners gathered for the 3-year-old German Shepherd’s funeral, which included full police honors with a flag-draped casket and a 21-gun salute. Dozens of police officers from around the state paid their respects to their fellow officer. "Without question, Kye’s sacrifice saved the life of one of the officers,” said Sgt. Coy Gilbert, in his eulogy. A particularly emotional moment was captured on camera when Kye’s partner, Staff Sgt. Ryan Stark, leaned over his casket with his family at his side to kiss his dog goodbye.
Susie the Pit Bull mix was honored with the American Humane Association’s Hero Dog Award this year. As a puppy, Susie suffered terrible abuse. She was beaten, set on fire and left for dead by her owner in a park in North Carolina. Fortunately, a local animal shelter saved her and nursed her back to health — and she has gone on to do great things. Susie was adopted by Donna Lawrence, who nearly lost her own life to a dog attack. The pair went on to become advocates for abused animals and helped pass Susie’s Law in North Carolina. Under the law, people convicted on animal abuse charges in the state now face harsher penalties. Today Susie is a therapy dog who visits hospitals, schools and nursing homes to provide hope and inspiration.
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