Anyone who has ever owned a dog knows how loving and protective they are–after all, there is a reason that stories of “Hero Dogs” abound all over the web. From tales of dogs rescuing people from fires, floods and armed gunmen; to tales of dogs that forewarned of natural disasters and led their owners to safety, dogs are renowned for being extremely loyal to humans and, sometimes, the crux of human survival.
Dogs have been domesticated for thousands of years and they help humans in a number of ways. Breeds like Saint Bernards dig people out of the snow after avalanches. German Shepherds help police officers chase down criminals and can also be trained to smell drugs or bombs. Alaskan Huskies helped humans travel in what would otherwise be snowbound conditions, Shiz Tzu’s guarded ancient temples and sheep dogs protected farmer’s livestock and–subsequently–livelihoods. In exchange, dogs ask only for food, shelter and love from their people.
In recent years, there has been a lot of media attention focused on “therapy dogs”–canine companions that help people overcome mental obstacles such as stress or PTSD. Yet dogs can also be used to detect physical conditions including epilepsy, strokes and even the onset of cancer. While it has been long established that certain breeds of dogs–especially Labradors–make excellent guides for the blind, it is a relatively recent breakthrough to acknowledge that dogs can help with many, many other ailments too.
Given all that dogs do for us, it’s perhaps unsurprising that ceremonies like the “Hero Dog Awards” exist. For individuals who like to read about heroic dogs, a book titled “Unlikely Heroes”—which is part of the “Unlikely Friendships” franchise–is highly recommended. Although the book chronicles stories of heroism from various kinds of animals, dogs are–by far–the most mentioned species. Man’s–and woman’s–best friends, indeed.