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Heroic Dogs: True Tails of Bravery

There is a reason we call dogs, “man’s best friend.” They give us their companionship, unconditional love, trust, and loyalty. The loyalty of some dogs, however, goes above and beyond the usual day-to-day variety and becomes something more. Sometimes dogs display a level of dedication to their human friends and bravery that it raises them to the level of real-life heroes.


In New York City on September 11, 2001, a seeing-eye guide dog name Roselle became a hero by leading his companion to safety.

Michael Hingson was blind and was working on the 78th floor in Tower One of the World Trade Center, aided by his trusted seeing-eye guide dog, Roselle. When the planes struck the building during the attacks, Roselle guided Michael through the building and down a whopping 1,463 steps to safety. The yellow Labrador Retriever led Hingson through a pandemonium of deadly smoke, debris, fire, and other dangers, getting him safely away from the building before it ultimately collapsed.


A loyal companion, Toby the dog saved his friend’s life against all odds.

A Maryland woman named Debbie Parkhurst had been home alone, except for her dog Toby. Debbie had been eating an apple and a small piece of the fruit got lodged in her throat, cutting off her airway. Choking, she was began beating on her chest, trying to knock the food free to no avail. Toby, her Golden Retriever, caught on to her distress and sprung up, putting his paws on her shoulders. He knocked her to the floor, and jumped up and down on her chest, using his big paws to dislodge the apple. He licked Parkhurst’s face to keep her from losing consciousness until she was able to get herself up off the floor. No one knows how Toby figured out his version of the Heimlich maneuver, but because of his resourcefulness and dedication, he was presented with  a Dog of the Year award for his heroics.


A dog doesn’t even have to belong to you or your family for it to want to protect us hapless humans.

In Mays Landing, New Jersey, the DeStefani family were saved by a small Pomeranian-poodle mix that wasn’t even their dog.

 The family  was watching Bandit for a friend while she was out of town. Rich DeStefani had put a hairbrush into a pot of boiling water to sterilize it,  but forgot the pot on the stove when everyone went to bed that night. By 3:30AM, the water had long sine boiled away and the burning plastic of the hairbrush filled the house with toxic smoke. There were brand new smoke detectors in the house but they did not go off. Instead, Bandit jumped on Jennifer DeStefani until she woke up and was able to alert  her husband and 9-year-old daughter. One smoke detector didn’t actually go off until after the fire department arrived, far too late to be of any use. Thankfully the fire was limited to the stove, but the home sustained serious smoke damage. Bandit was hailed as a hero.


Nemo the Air Force heroic dog
Nemo, a heroic dog

During the Vietnam war, a military dog named Nemo helped save his human partner’s life.

On the night of December 4, 1966. Airman Robert Throneburg and his sentry dog Nemo quietly patrolled near a graveyard on Tan Son Nhut Airbase While they made their way through the patrol, Nemo alerted Throneburg to a group of hidden enemy soldiers, waiting to attack. Airman Throneburg gave the comman, “Watch him,”. When the dog showed he was ready for action, Throneburg then commanded, “Get him!” Nemo leaped into the enemy’s hiding spot. Airman Throneburg followed close behind. R ight away, Airman Throneburg and Nemo killed two of the enemy soldiers but, before help could arrive, Airman Throneburg was wounded in the front left side of his shoulder but survived another missed shot. After being medevaced, Tan Son Nhut, was liberated.

Airman Robert Throneburg received two Purple Hearts and the Bronze Star Medal with the V for valour (BSV). Nemo was one of the first K-9 units retired and returned to the US.

To learn more about Nemo and Airman Throneburg’s experience, check out this Article.

We tend to think of dogs as those cute fluffy sweethearts who warm our laps or take walks with us but as you can see, dogs give us so much more than just comfort and companionship. Dogs have proven time and again that they are fierce, cunning and powerful allies and protectors to us humans and often are able to detect danger well before we can. Many people owe their lives and safety to heroic dogs who came to their rescue.

For more great info about our favorite fur-friends, head over to the Blog page and read more about the dogs we love.