Pets who saved their owner's lives
They're our faithful companions, walking by our side every step of the way. But some of us have even more reasons to love our pets like family: Some families have pets who are literally responsible for saving their lives.
"He has a soft heart," says Chloe-Jeane Wendell of Sunny Boy, her rescued palomino quarterhorse. And when she needed him, he was there.
At the Louisiana Redbud Festival Parade, a 75-pound pit bull shot out of the crowd. As the dog tried to pounce on Chloe-Jeane, more than a thousand pounds of Sunny Boy jumped between his owner and the attacking dog. He astonished everyone by squaring off and kicking the pitbull hard in the face, saving his owner from a certain attack.
Sunny Boy will remain a hero, as the Wendells plan to involve him in an equine-assisted therapy program for troubled youths.
The Right Dog for the Job
Ron Gillette and his wife, Ann, looked for months to find the right pet following the death of their beloved 15-year-old dog, Bailey.
Finally, they spotted Oscar at the Humane Society in Milwaukee. Oscar quickly made himself at home, sleeping on his owners' bed at night.
A diabetic for 25 years, Ron Gilette took insulin four times a day, but, he says, "I must have taken the wrong dose of insulin before I went to sleep." When I got up in the middle of the night my blood sugar level was dangerously low and I passed out, hitting the floor pretty hard."
At the same moment, Oscar let out noises that sounded as if they were from a wild animal. "I didn't know what the sound was, then I saw my husband lying on the floor. He was out cold," says Ann, who was able to quickly realize what was going on and called for an ambulance.
A Bird's Way With Words
19-year-old Meagan had volunteered to watch her roommate's two year old daughter. While the little girl was watching TV, Meagan briefly walked out of the room.
That's when Willie stepped in. He started flapping his wings screeching "Mama, baby! Mama, baby!" Meagan rushed to the room to see Hannah's face turning blue as she choked on her food while Willie kept crying "Mama, baby!" Meagan performed the Heimlich maneuver, and the food dislodged from Hannah's throat.
"The minute I took charge, Willie quit squawking, as if he knew things were under control," she says. "He calls me Mama, so he was clearly trying to get my attention."
But the really amazing part? "Willie had never said baby before."
A Clever Kitty
"Normally, she just snuggles with me," says Cathy Keesling of Winnie, her 14-year-old cat.
One night, Keesling turned off a gas-powered pump she had borrowed to clear up a flood in her basement and went to bed. Shortly thereafter, she says, "Winnie jumped from her window perch right on to me. I got up, and felt like I'd be hit with a two-by-four, then I got dizzy."
The cat, says Keesling, "started carrying on again -- she would not leave me alone." After several moments of lethargy, she adds, "I don't know how, but I dialed 911."
Emergency workers stormed in the house a few moments later, and found the whole family unconscious. They were all treated for severe carbon monoxide poisoning.
Says Keesling, "One of our rescuers, a deputy sheriff, said that we could have been dead in five more minutes." Winnie is now treated like a wonder cat!
"He knew there was trouble," says Mary Lane of her 13-pound Chihuahua, Chichi. While The Lanes were relaxing on the beach during a vacation, she remembers of her dog, "His bark was different from anything we had heard before, and he would not let us ignore him."
Mary and her husband immediately sat up to see two elderly women in the ocean, about 100 yards down the beach and 10 feet offshore. One women was on her back, her head tipping under the waves. The other was frantically trying to keep her friend's head above the surface. The Lanes rushed to rescue the two ladies and were able to pull them back to safety.
Duty done, ChiChi was back in his chair and asleep by the time to two women were on dry ground.
The Lanes have since ordered a dog collar with the words "Hero Dog" as a gift to ChiChi for his amazing act of valor.
Vote for your favorite! Help pick the Hero Pet of the Year, at www.readersdigest.com/pets