Dogs Save Humans' Lives… in a Variety of Ways
As dog owners know, canines are more than just our friends. Many of us consider them family.
They provide us with unconditional love and companionship. They bring us joy during good times and comfort when we're down.
We don't know what we'd do without them. That's especially true of people who are dependent on dogs for their physical and mental health.
Some are trained for this very purpose. We call them service dogs. And "serve" is exactly what they do.
Let's take a look at the different kinds of service dogs out there. And stay with me because then we'll get into specific cases of how dogs have heroically saved lives.
The most common is the guide dog. They lead visually impaired and blind people around obstacles. Often in high-traffic areas.
The breeds most often chosen for this activity are the Golden and Labrador Retrievers.
But just about any dog can be trained for this. Even Poodles. These guide dogs wear special harnesses for their tasks and often wear vests.
Mobility Assistance Dogs
Another type is the mobility assistance dog. This animal is taught to perform basic duties that a physically impaired individual is unable to do.
Often these people are confined to wheelchairs because of ailments ranging from arthritis to spinal cord injuries.
Among these dogs' activities are bringing objects to their owners and pressing buttons on automatic doors.
These are almost always larger dogs, due to the importance of physically assisting their owners. Some can even help pull a wheelchair up a ramp.
Some people who are deaf or have hearing impairments choose to let a dog do their hearing for them.
They will alert their owners to noises they should be aware of. Including doorbells and alarms. Even crying babies. Once they hear a sound like that, they'll touch their owners and lead them toward the sound.
A wide variety of breeds can be trained as hearing dogs. Labradors and Goldens are among them. But a large dog is not necessarily needed for this task.
Among other breeds that have been trained in this area are Cocker Spaniels, Poodles and Shih Tzus. Even Chihuahuas.
Diabetic Alert Dogs
Others trained for an alert scenario are diabetic alert dogs. Because their sense of smell is so keen, they can detect a change associated with hyperglycemic and hypoglycemic events.
In other words, they can alert a human to a potential diabetic attack before blood sugar highs or lows reach dangerous levels.
This alert lets humans know it's time to test their blood. They can then inject insulin or ingest glucose in time.
Some of these dogs are also trained to alert someone else in the home or set off an alarm if their human needs medical assistance.
Another service some dogs provide is assisting those who experience PTSD, anxiety and depression.
These are often larger dogs, including German Shepherds. They make humans feel safer in a variety of ways. Including giving their owners more personal space by standing between them and other people in public places.
These dogs are trained to enter a dwelling in front of humans, sometimes even turning on lights with a foot pedal.
The dog ensures that the human will get out of the home more often, including for exercise. And it gives the human something to love and care for.
Dogs Sense Danger in Advance
Prior to the devastating tsunami that ravaged Indonesia in 2004 and killed some 230,000 people, many animals were seen scurrying to higher ground.
Somehow they sensed their lives were in danger and that the higher up they were, the safer they would be. Unfortunately, the same was not true of humans.
Dogs have been known to behave strangely prior to natural disasters. Including earthquakes and tornados.
Watch for erratic behavior from your dogs, including excessive barking, whining, pacing and even biting. They might be trying to tell you something.
Saving Humans From Animals, Fire, Choking, Poisoning and Drowning
As promised, here are some real-life examples of dogs saving the lives of humans.
- An 18-month-old Golden Retriever named Angel leaped in front of an 11-year boy to stop an attack by a cougar. Authorities put the cougar down and Angel recovered from her injuries.
- As a house fire raged and the parents grabbed their kids and ran, they didn't know where their infant was. Suddenly their mixed-breed dog came racing out of the house, carrying the baby by her diaper.
- As a Golden Retriever's owner was choking on an apple, he leapt onto her chest, dislodging the apple. The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals gave the dog an award.
- Being repeatedly woken up by the family dog was annoying at first, but a woman soon realized the dog was trying to communicate something. She woke the rest of the family and they got out of the house just in time to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
- A Labrador Retriever named Norman saved a girl from drowning when he heard her cry for help. What makes the rescue more remarkable is that Norman is blind.
There are countless other examples, but you get the idea. Many dogs are more than just our friends. They are true heroes.