Dogs have been our greatest and most faithful companions throughout history. They love us unconditionally and teach us what’s most important in life. Dogs have also played an important role in saving human lives through search and rescue, working with the military, and aiding and assisting those with medical needs. They are truly our best friends and true heroes. Let’s take a look at a few hero dogs in history.
Hero Dogs of September 11th
Many brave and courageous first responders worked tirelessly searching for survivors after the September 11th attack on the Twin Towers in New York City in 2001. Among them were nearly 300 dogs, some working as part of the search and rescue teams, and others providing comfort to firefighters and other first responders. The work was mentally and physical taxing on the dogs and many got discouraged at not finding survivors. Handlers set-up mock finds to keep the dogs focused and motivated. Among these hero dogs was Trakr, a German Shepherd police dog who along with his handler discovered the last survivor at ground zero and Bretagne, a golden retriever and seasoned veteran who was the last surviving September 11th rescue dog. Read the story of Trakr in 9/11 Hero Dog Saved Woman Trapped in the Rubble for 27 Hours. Read about the hero dogs of September 11 in Remembering the Four-Legged Heroes of the 9/11 Rescue and Recovery. Learn about the legacy of the search and rescue dogs of 9/11 dogs in The Legacy of 9/11 Dogs.
Image of Bretagne courtesy Denise Corliss.
When an outbreak of diphtheria threatened the town of Nome, Alaska in 1925, the only means of transportation to deliver the life-saving serum was by dog sled. Several dog sled teams created a chain across Alaska for the 5-day journey. Balto, a Siberian Husky, led the dog team that took the last leg of the journey, arriving in Nome with the life-saving serum.
Dogs play an integral part in the lives of their human companions. They provide comfort, support, and companionship to those with disabilities, medical conditions, aging seniors, and those that have suffered trauma. As therapy dogs they bring us comfort and brighten our everyday lives. A dog’s keen sense of smell makes them perfect for assisting those with medical conditions like diabetes and seizures. They alert their human companions to changes in their physical condition that may require immediate attention. Dogs are also intuitive and sensitive and can often sense when their human companions are sad or stressed and need a little extra love. To learn more check out Service Dogs 101 - Everything You Need to Know.
Military Working Dogs
Dogs have been part of the military for many years. Although they worked during World War I, it wasn’t until World War II that they were officially recognized by the U.S. Army with the establishment of the K-9 Corps. Some Americans volunteered their dogs for service including the pet parent of Chips, one of the most famous military dogs. Chips was a German Shepherd, Alaskan Husky, and Collie mix credited with saving the lives of many soldiers during World War II. He was awarded a Purple Heart and Silver Star for his service. His story was memorialized in the Disney film, Chips, the War Dog. To learn more about Chips, check out the article
Chips, The Hero Dog of World War II, Awarded the Highest Honor. For more information on military dogs, check out Military Working Dogs: Canine War Heroes Through History. Image of Chips courtesy US Army Quartermaster Museum
Dogs are our companions, loyal friends and heroes. They bring us joy and unconditional love each and every day, and provide comfort and care to those in need.
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