August 26th is National Dog Day! A day dedicated to honouring family and service dogs who work selflessly to save lives, protect us from harm and bring us comfort. Dogs all over the world put their lives on the line for humans every single day. Some sniff out bombs and drugs in airports, others rescue victims of tragedy by pulling them out from wreckages. They offer companionship to the blind and disabled, and are always there for us when we need their love and support the most. Dogs are heroes and they deserve to be recognised for their selfless acts of kindness. This is a tribute to some of the bravest dogs in history.
The following dogs all deserve gold medals and capes for their heroism:
Sergeant Stubby was a canine hero who served in the American army during the First World War. Much like the other soldiers, he could salute on command by raising his right paw. Stubby participated in 17 battles and rose to the well-deserved rank of sergeant. During his service, he caught a German spy mapping allied positions and, after being exposed to a mustard gas attack which left his nose sensitive to the gas, he learned how to warn soldiers in their sleep of imminent gas attacks, saving their lives.
Once the courageous canine returned home to the U.S., he was presented with a gold medal by the Commanding General of the United States. Thereafter, he became the mascot of a sports team at Georgetown University, Washington DC, and peacefully passed away in 1926, in the arms of his beloved human.
Jock of the Bushveld
Jock is one of the most loyal dogs in South African history. He was a Staffordshire who joined his companion, Percy Fitzpatrick, on his travels in the old Transvaal. The pair shared many adventures together. Once Percy shot a kudu bull and watched Jock tackle the massive creature to the ground to express his loyalty to Percy. Thereafter, Jock became a hunting dog who wasn’t afraid to put his life on the line for his owner.
Percy wrote books about the brave pooch and his daughter commemorated Jock’s legacy by erecting a statue on a farm in the Lowveld. The statue was moved to Barberton, Mpumalanga in 1984, where it remains to this day in loving memory of the legendary dog.
Apollo and his handler, Peter Davis, were called in to assist with rescue operations after the 9/11 terror attacks. Apollo was the first rescue dog to arrive at the World Trade Centre. The brave German Sheppard risked his own life to save the lives of others and had a near-death experience when the flames and falling debris almost killed him.
Apollo received the Dickin Medal along with Roselle and Salty (two service dogs who also led their owners out of the 9/11 ruins).
Barry, a courageous St. Bernard from Switzerland, is known as the world’s most successful mountain rescue dog. He has been part of over 40 rescue missions and has selflessly saved dozens of people trapped in blizzards.
Barry passed away in 1814, but his legacy lives on in the snowy mountains of Switzerland as new search and rescue dog recruits are named after him.
Treo was a British military bomb-sniffing black lab who saved hundreds of soldiers and civilians by detecting multiple roadside bombs. The brave four-legged trooper was deployed to Afghanistan in March 2008 and was tasked to search for weapons and munitions concealed by the Taliban.
Treo received the Dickin Medal for his bravery and bomb-sniffing skills. “The medal is recognised throughout the world as the animals’ Victoria Cross and is the highest award any animal can receive for bravery in the line of duty. Treo is, without doubt, a worthy recipient,” said General Jan McLoughlin.
Treo passed away in October 2015 at the age of 14 years. And, as the ultimate tribute to his loyal friend, Sergeant Heyhoe had his beloved dog’s ashes tattooed into his leg, in the shape of a paw print.
We salute all heroic dogs with the utmost respect and adoration they deserve!
Even though your dog might not sniff out bombs, rescue people trapped in blizzards or wrestle wild animals, s/he deserves a medal of honour for loyal companionship. Afterall, they often become the ordinary heroes we need daily just by being who they instinctively are – which is man’s best friend!