Top 10 Heroic Dogs

What person doesn't shed a tear when a heroic dog saves their owner from impending danger? How many times have you held back your emotions and clandestinely wiped the wetness off your cheek when Lassie saved Timmy from certain death after Timmy fell into an abandoned well? Even if you're not inclined to admit it, I know you, as an animal lover, enjoy the accomplishments of heroic dogs who saved lives seemingly without fear of losing their own!

Here is my list of ten heroic dog tales (in no particular order.)


Salty and Roselle

The place was the World Trade Center in New York City and the day was September 11, 2001. Salty and Roselle were two guide dogs who were with their owners when terrorists attacked by crashing two planes into these well-known landmarks. On the 71st floor, Salty, a male Labrador retriever, was at his owner's side (Omar Rivera who worked at the Port Authority headquarters in Tower 1.) Salty refused to leave his owner behind. Rivera's supervisor, Donna Enright along with Salty, aided in leading Rivera out of the building.
Roselle was a female yellow lab guide dog who saved the life of her owner, Michael Hingson, who found himself on the 78th floor of the World Trade Center. As the building began swaying and crumbling, Roselle led Michael through a crumbling office and into a stairwell to safety just a few moments before Tower 1 collapsed!

These dogs' acts of bravery were recognized when they were awarded the Dickin Medal by the British charity, the People's Dispensary for Sick Animals. Roselle went on to be posthumously named American Hero Dog of the Year 2011 by the American Humane Society (and also had a book written about her.) Salty died at age 11 on March 28th, 2011 and Roselle died June 26, 2011 at age 13.

Read more about Salty and Roselle.


Gander The War Dog

Newfoundlands often protect people but what dog would retrieve a grenade and return it to the sender? Gander (also known as Pal), who served in the Royal Rifles of Canada was one such dog. This act of bravery occurred on Hong Kong Island in World War II when the Japanese wanted to take this key island away from British control. On two occasions Gander turned back attacks on the troops, saving the lives of wounded soldiers. On his final act of bravery, Gander personally carried a grenade away from US troops, thus saving countless lives even as he lost his own! Since then Gander has been honored in many ways, one of which was the Dickin medal, a Canadian award for “displaying conspicuous gallantry and devotion to duty."

Read more about Gander


Target, Rufus and Sasha

Chris Duke, a Georgia National Guardsman befriended three stray dogs while with his unit in Afghanistan. He credits these dogs, Sasha, Rufus, and Target, with saving not only his life but the lives of his entire unit! When a suicide bomber approached their barracks the three dogs attacked and bit the bomber who blew himself up before gaining entrance. Sasha had to be put down because of her wounds from the explosion but the other two dogs recovered from their injuries. When Chris Duke returned to the United States he retold his story of the dogs he left behind which led to a successful fund raising effort that brought Rufus and Target to the States!

Read more about Target, Rufus and Sasha

Find out more about No Dog Left Behind—an organization that reunites soldiers with the dogs they bonded with in war-torn nations.


Hero the Fire Alarm

Hero, owned by Wendy Rankin of Brackenridge, Pennsylvania had been injured in a traffic accident. Wendy and her family had a choice to put her down or nurse her back to health.They chose the latter and that decision paid off a hundredfold a few months later! On 3AM one February morning Hero started barking which wasn't her natural behavior. The family awoke to find their home ablaze! The home was destroyed, but the family escaped alive—and they owe it all to Hero who repaid her debt to them in full.


A Guardian Angel

Austin Forman, an 11-year-old from Boston Bar, British Columbia noticed his dog Angel, acting strange one day. The Golden Retriever, sensing danger was near, remained close by Austin's side! Austin was in the backyard gathering firewood when a cougar attacked! Angel quickly leapt to Austin's rescue. While she fought the cougar, Austin ran into the house and Austin's mother called 911. Soon the police arrived and killed the cougar. Angel was taken to the animal hospital with deep wounds but recovered. Austin bought her a big juicy steak as a reward for her bravery!



In 2011 The Humane Society of the United States named Yogi, s golden retriever Valor Dog of the Year for saving his owners life after he went over the handlebars of his mountain bike and landed on his head! When Yogi's owner, Paul Horton, regained consciousness, his trusted dog was there by his side. He whispered for Yogi to fetch help and that's what Yogi did; barking at neighbors walking by until they noticed Yogi's peculiar behavior and followed him. Doctors found Horton's vertebrae had pinched his spinal cord and he was paralyzed from the chest down. Since then some sensation has returned and he has limited arm movement. Needless to say, Yogi is still his best friend!



Many stories have surfaced from down south concerning the terrible Hurricane Katrina. But stories of heroism have also surfaced from among that sadness. Even the slightest ray of hope is enough to bring a smile in the midst of a disaster and, ironically, a smile was brought about by a dog named Katrina! The story came out of The Los Angeles based station KCAL which, after the broadcast, sent a rescue team back to New Orleans to save this heroic dog. The black lab, Katrina, who saved a drowning man before flood waters could claim the man's life, helped by pulling him to higher ground. Katrina was later honored with a standing ovation at that year's Genesis Awards from the Humane Society. The man rescued gives full credit to this brave pooch for saving his life.


So there are my ten choices, though you can read about manny more heroic dogs and their valiant deeds all over the Internet. Some end in sadness; others end in happiness and joy, but they all begin with dogs displaying great courage!

By Tom Matteo