Yesterday, National Public Radio aired a compelling story on how dogs, horses, and other animals make our lives better and even improve our health―a theme I discussed at length in my book, The Bond: Our Kinship with Animals, Our Call to Defend Them. The piece, called “How Animals and Humans Heal Each Other,” reported on a number of instances that prove the point, including a young boy with autism helped by therapeutic horseback riding, and shelter dog-walking programs that have benefited the volunteers’ health as well as helped dogs get adopted.
Photo by Paul Horton
Yogi, the 2011 Valor Dog of the Year, helped
his owner after an accident.
While it’s exciting to see more scientific attention given to this beneficial connection between people and animals―and even talk of the biochemistry that underlies this connection we have with other creatures―there are even more plain and obvious examples of how animals help us. For the fifth year in a row, The Humane Society of the United States is celebrating extraordinary examples of this bond with our Dogs of Valor Awards. We’ve chosen 10 stories of heroic canines who alerted people to house fires, defended their families from domestic violence or intruders, helped people suffering from serious medical emergencies, or stayed by their owners' sides when stranded in extreme weather conditions.
Take a look at these 10 inspiring stories and vote for your favorite to win the “People’s Hero” award by this Friday, March 9 at 5 p.m. Eastern (or you can vote on Facebook). Our celebrity judges, NFL wide receiver Braylon Edwards and author and dog trainer Tamar Geller, will also choose a Valor Dog of the Year to be announced on March 11. Have your pets ever come to the rescue for you and your family, or have your pets helped improve your health and well-being? You can share your story on my Facebook page.