Everyday, people witness countless acts of heroism, big and small. Heroes, too, come in different shapes and sizes, forms and breeds, man and animals alike. Dolphins, seals, horses, cats and whales are just a few from the animal kingdom that display tremendous protective instincts that save man from all sorts of danger. But nothing beats the man’s best friend.
After displays of great courage and bravery during World War I, dogs have seen in a different light. They were thrust into the limelight unknowingly. Since then, dogs have been called all time heroes – recognized, rescued, trained and cared for by man. All kinds of awards were given to dogs to celebrate their heroism and saving prowess such as the Dog Hero of the Year Award.
The dogs carry on a long line of lifesavers. They have shown unthinkable acts of saving adults and children alike in grave danger like fire, drowning, road and home accidents, intruders and robbers, and even in a huge tragedy like 9/11. The images of heroic dogs finding possible survivors or even lost bodies under rubble and debris in ground zero crushed the hearts of many Americans.
These canine heroes come from all breeds, backgrounds and locations. Take note, they are not pedigreed. These dog heroes are not at all dominated by big dogs, though they are often used for the purpose of national security. Their breeds vary from the famous German Shepherd, Saint Bernard and Collies (remember Lassie?) to Poodle, Labrador, American Pit Bull, Terrier, Chesapeake Bay Retriever, Cocker Spaniel, Doberman, Pinscher, English Springer Spaniel, Golden Retriever, Great Dane, Newfoundland, Rottweiler, Shetland, Sheepdog, Terrier and Weimaraner.
During the Vietnam War, 4,000 dogs were recruited to assist and protect U.S. troops, thus preventing an estimate of 10,000 plus American casualties. At that time, they were considered surplus armaments. They were either euthanized or left to their fates in Vietnam. Now, books and documentaries preserved the memories of countless canines that aided in the protection of mankind.
Today, dog heroes play an even more critical role in the fight against terrorism. The ability of dogs to detect bombs is already proven since World War I. A German shepherd’s nose has 250 billion smelling cells to give it the ability to detect a target odor amidst all other odors.
Breeds do not guarantee a dog hero status. Like men, dogs need a rare set of attributes to stand out: intelligence, being calm even in the presence of loud noise, focus amidst distractions and a compulsive desire to play with a toy. After all, the game is to find the scent and get the toy.