We have read and heard of humans saving dogs from cruel persons, irresponsible owners, dog meat traders, and dogfighting syndicates.
But stories of dogs saving humans are now growing in number and show us that our furry friends indeed have feelings and intelligence that can match humans, in some ways.
I have read of two separate incidents wherein a mama dog and a pack of dogs saw a baby who was thrown in the garbage bin. These rescuer dogs then brought the baby to the hospital.
I have also read about hero dogs who saved children from being hit by a vehicle. The dogs in all incidents took the impact which damaged half of the face of these dogs.
These stories warm the heart.
Thus, our family is so grateful we found a book which chronicled acts of compassion from dogs and cats in a local bookstore.
“The Compassion of Animals” by Kristin Von Kreisler is such a lovely read. It contains anecdotes on how dogs and cats helped, saved, and comforted humans in different parts of the world.
The anecdotes made me smile, cry, and laugh; the book put me in a happy place during or after a stressful day.
One such heartwarming story is that of a dog who saved his friend, a three-year-old boy.
Smart Labrador leads owners to drowning child.
In Chapter 15, “Kindness to Kids,” Kreisler shared the story of dog Belle and human Kenny:
“Belle, a black Labrador retriever in Lunenburg, Nova Scotia, was obedient and loving. Not once did Belle refuse to come when called. Like a loyal guard, she protected Kenneth Knickles, age three, and followed him everywhere.
“I’m going out to play, “ Kenny told his mother, Nancy, one winter morning.
She looked up from the newspaper at the kitchen table. “Have fun.”
Belle filed out the door behind Kenny… When Belle accompanied Kenny, Nancy never worried.
She finished the newspaper and talked for a moment on the telephone, then got up to check on Kenny. He and Belle, she discovered, had left the yard… Nancy searched the house, but they were both missing….
When she shouted their names, Kenny did not answer. What was even more cause for alarm was that Belle did not come…
Panicked, Nancy telephoned her husband, Kenneth at his office…
“Did you look around the channel?” The Lunenburg Harbour Channel, which then would have been at half-tide and about ten feet deep, bordered the Knickles property.
“They never go anywhere near the water. They can’t be there,” Nancy reassured Kenneth --- and herself.
As Kenneth hurried home…. Crossing the bridge over the channel, he glanced down the partly frozen water and was stunned to see Belle hanging by her claws to an icy ledge along the bank. Only her head and paws were visible above the slush.
Belle could easily have let go of the bank and swum to safety. Instead, Kenneth was certain, with her black body against the white snow, that she was marking the spot where his son could be found. Hanging there, she wanted someone to see her and come to rescue Kenny. Using her body as a signal, she was calling for help.
Kenneth parked the car and ran to help her, drenched and shivering, onto the bank. When he put his head into the water to look under the crust of ice for Kenny, he saw one of his son’s Mickey Mouse mittens at the bottom of the channel.
Kenneth’s heartbeat with such force that his temples pounded. As Belle whined, he threw his hat into the water to see which direction it would float ---and which direction the water might have pulled Kenny under the ice. Following the hat with his eyes, Kenneth spotted a small piece of Kenny’s blue snowsuit on the channel’s surface just eight feet from where Belle had been hanging. The boy had turned upside down in the water. Air that was trapped under his suit barely kept him afloat.
Just as Kenneth saw his son, Belle jumped back into the water and swam to save him. Nancy ran to the channel while Kenneth leaped across it from chunk to chunk of ice. Lying on a thick frozen slab to anchor himself, he pulled Belle, then Kenny out of the water. Belle watched as Kenneth frantically pushed on Kenny’s chest; water gushed out of the boy’s mouth.
Kenneth picked the boy up and jumped back across floating ice cakes to shore. Certain that his son was dead, he was numb with shock. Nancy buried her face in her hands and sobbed. Belle barked as if she were calling for help.
When firemen arrived, the dog…tried to get into the ambulance with Kenny’s lifeless body. As the ambulance sped away, she ran after it until Nancy and Kenneth forced her to come back home, where she paced from room to room and seemed lost and inconsolable
Nancy and Kenneth put her in the basement and drove, grief-stricken to the hospital…
“He was in the water half an hour, “a doctor told them. “If we revive him, he’ll be brain dead.”
…Belle moped at home. Occasionally, she walked to the channel and looked across the water, perhaps to see if Kenny was there…
After three weeks, he came home – without brain damage. A miracle.
Another miracle had been Belle’s intelligence and sacrifice. For weeks the Kinickles asked themselves. “What if?..” What if Belle had left Kenny in the channel and had come in to Nancy’s call? And what if the tide had dragged Kenny away under the ice while Belle was gone? Then, even the dog might not have known where Kenny was. If she’d not hung, wet and shivering, onto the bank to mark the spot, Kenneth never would have found his son in time.”
(Next week: more stories about dogs who helped humans.)
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