From Trash to Treasure to Hero

By on October 10, 2008 with 0 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

© Bartley family
Buffy, the Valor Dog of the Year
(Companion Dog cateogry)

Last week HSUS staff hosted a private awards ceremony for the family of Buffy, a German Shepherd from Oakland, Calif., who was posthumously named the Valor Dog of the Year, the highest honor in the companion dog category of The HSUS’s inaugural Dogs of Valor Awards. Buffy’s intervention during a robbery saved her owner’s life but ultimately claimed hers. You can read Buffy’s touching story on our website, and also in the San Francisco Chronicle and Oakland Tribune, where her heroic tale was recently recounted.

So many of the Dogs of Valor stories we received are testaments of devotion and courage. I have long believed that rescue dogs have a special devotion to the people who adopt them, and in reviewing these cases, I was not surprised to see that so many heroic dogs had been adoptees. For instance, Jack, a finalist in the Dogs of Valor companion dog category—and your pick for People’s Choice—was adopted from the Humane League of Lancaster County in Pennsylvania after being found in a dumpster.

The family that eventually adopted the abandoned terrier mix visited the shelter on several occasions, looking for its perfect match. When they met Jack, they knew they had found exactly who they were looking for. After joining his new family, this little dog—who someone had once deemed disposable—ended up saving their little girl’s life when he alerted her sleeping parents to her first grand mal seizure.

© The HSUS
Adrian McKee and her service dog Pearl.

Pearl, a finalist in the Dogs of Valor working dog category, was saved as a puppy from an abusive home that was believed to be training dogs to participate in cruel, illegal dogfighting. Lucky for Pearl, she was adopted by a California woman who needed her just as much as Pearl needed the woman. Pearl was trained to assist her new owner with mobility and health issues. When Pearl’s caretaker collapsed from a dire medical condition, the 13-year-old boxer mix went well beyond her official trained duties as an assistance dog. She knocked the phone off the receiver, hit the emergency button, and ran outside to wait for help to arrive.  I am always amazed that so many abused dogs can put the betrayal behind them and show such love to people (see The Press-Enterprise’s story about Pearl’s heroics).

No animal needs to be a hero for us to love them, but these stories remind us that animals come with rich emotional lives, and that the differences between us and them are ones of degree and not kind.

Animal Rescue and Care, Companion Animals

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