1. When a dog rescued sailors from a shipwreck
When a ship named Ethie crashed back in 1919, her crew of 93 was left with no choice but to look to their dog, Tang, for help. Taking a rope in his mouth, Tang leaped into the water and swam to shore. Once there, the sailors were able to pull themselves from the wreckage and post up safely onshore.
2. When a cat saved his family from a fire
You may be used to hearing about firefighters saving cats, but cats save us from fires, too. At 4:45 one morning, Dianne Busscher was woken up by Oreo’s constant meowing and went downstairs to find him—initially only finding smoke and flames. Spotting and grabbing Oreo, she rushed back upstairs and roused her husband and children. They all escaped unscathed thanks to Oreo’s persistent wake up calls.
3. When a German shepherd brought the police to his owner
In the dead of winter in Alaska, a fire erupted at Ben Heinrichs’s home. Fortunately, he had Buddy—a German shepherd—at his side. After waiting on the police, he told Buddy that they needed help, and Buddy ran off. He found the state trooper who had responded to the call and led him—literally—to the burning home. He even looked back to make sure the police were still following him.
4. When a Labrador retrieved a drowning woman
While Brenda Owen was walking her dog, Penny, she noticed a wheelchair on the riverbank and a woman out in the water. After trying and failing to gain the woman’s attention, she told Penny to “Fetch!” Penny instinctively knew what to do and jumped into the water, swam out to the woman, and brought her back to the shore. Her life was saved.
5. When a cat’s sense of smell saved her family
Apparently, cats are always watching you when you sleep. Thankfully. Winnie the cat smelled something off in the middle of the night, so she found her owners and started frantically meowing in their ears—a meowing which Cathy Keesling described as “almost screaming.” It turns out that a water pump was leaking odorless carbon monoxide into the house, but thanks to Winnie, everyone escaped unharmed.
6. When a tabby was more effective than a smoke alarm
Baby had spent her whole 13 years being a pretty mild-tempered, quiet cat until she had to be louder than a smoke detector. Josh Ornberg and Letitia Kovalovsky—recently pregnant with twins—had fallen asleep on the couch when Ornberg was woken suddenly by Baby jumping all over his chest. Finally roused, he smelled smoke and got himself, Letitia, and Baby to safety.
7. When a dog watched over a child for a night
Three-year-old Victoria Bensch had been enjoying a beautiful Arizonan day in her backyard when she suddenly wandered off. February is freezing, even in Arizona, and she wasn’t wearing a coat. Fortunately, she had one thing to keep her warm: the family dog, Blue. The Queensland heeler followed her from 5pm until 9am the next morning and watched out for her—even being the reason a helicopter crew was led to Victoria.
8. When a Chihuahua was a lifeguard
Rick and Mary Lane were enjoying a day on the Outer Banks when their dog Chi Chi started yapping and pacing in his beach chair. Though his leash was tied to it, eventually he couldn’t take it anymore and charged down the beach—taking the chair along with him. Two elderly women had been caught in a rip tide and Chi Chi led the Lanes right to them just in time. Apparently, size doesn’t matter when it comes to being a hero.