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Golden Heroes

Service Golden Retriever Hero Midas

We love documenting heroic Golden deeds, the inspiring tale of SENIOR BULLET leading the way. And, please also delight in all our incredible Life-Savers' tales below.

  Ah Bao: got help for owner Grommett: saved owner from heart attack Oscar2: helped to get first aid
  Angel: saved sibling *brother* from cougar Hero: pulled man from mud pit Osh Gosh: saved child from dog attack
  Aza: saved injured elderly woman Honor: saved owner after fall Pink: saved owner from hit by truck
  Bailey2: saved youngster's life Jack: saved tot from drowning Rockstar: saved owner from snake bite
  Bailey3: saved owner from coyote Jangle: saved family from fire   Rory: saved owner from robbers
  Ben: sniffed owner's breast cancer  Jazmine: saved companion from attack Rowdy: saved owner from death
  Benson: saved family from fire Jed: saved his buddy from dying Rusty: saved man in jeopardy
  Bonnie: alerted to coming blaze Johben: shielded owner from attack Sage: saved owner's life
  Brandi: saved her canine sister Katie: gave blood to Golden Sasha: saved child from dying
  Brandy: saved child from fall Kiara: saved owner from choking Sassy: saved family from fire
  Bristo: found missing youngster Kiska: saved owner from Grizzly bear Scout: waking up helped detect fire
  Buddy: received Hero Award Lexie: saved three from fire Silvi: found downed climber
  Bullet: saved baby sibling *brother's* life Loie: got help for owner Smokey: brought rescue to his owner
  Buster: saved family from fire Lucky: saved owner from fire Stanley: saved hikers from lion
  Calamity Jane: breaks up robbery MacGyver: got help to save owner Stony: alerted to man's need for help
  Charlie: got owner up after fall Maddie: saved owner's life Sundance: saved sister from snake
  Clyde: saved his buddy from drowning Maddy: saved couple from carb. monoxide  Toby: saved owner's life  
  Copper: found lost child Magic: sniffed owner's cancer Trellis: got help for neighbor
  Copper2: saved family from fire Marti: saved owner from fire Tripp: alerted family to fire
  Crackers: guards woman in 20-hour ordeal Meg: saved family of three from fire Tucker: saved man from drowning
  Crockett: saved owner from rattlesnake Midas: saved his owner's life Tye: saved owner from fire
  Dakota: alerts to human's heart attacks Milo: saved neighbors from fire Willie: saved life, alerted to seizure
  Doc: found buried man Molly: saved her owner's life Winston: saved owner's life
  Dulcie: saved owner from blaze Morgan: got phone for injured human Wrigley: sniffed owner's brain tumor 
  Dusty: saved owner from fire Morgan2: saved feline Graycie Yogi: got help for paralyzed owner
  Foster: alerted to pal's need for help Murphy: alerted owner to heart attack  Zaret: got phone to help
  Ginger Bread: saved owner from snake Murphy2: helps others come back to life  
  Glen: saved owner from smoke/fire Murphy3: saved owner from fire  
  Golden: saved fallen painter Murphy4: stayed vigil with fallen owner  
  Goldie: alerted family to fire Oliver: saved owner from carb. monoxide  
  Goldie2: saved child from drowning Orca: got help for injured owner  
  Goldie3: saved owner from freezing Oscar: alerted to child's need for help  

Hero Dogs R Us Kids Contest
In 2004, we attempted to have a Kids Only Contest to honor special Goldens with a cause. However, only three entries were received. To honor those who participated in good faith, we mailed out prizes that included copies of the book, Gas Station Charlie: A True Story About a Real Dog, Golden rubber key chains, and our laminated & tasseled bookmarks.

Please take some time to enjoy our three entries!
           Kyle's Golden Macy            
           Wilson's Lady Penelope CGC "Nellie"          
           Golden Brandy

Books about our Canine Heroes
Hero Dogs: Courageous Canines in Action ─ Written by Donna M. Jackson.
A Dog's Gotta Do What a Dog's Gotta Do: Dogs at Work Written by Marilyn Singer.
Dogs With Jobs: Working Dogs Around the World ─ Written by Merrily Weisbord and Dr. Kim Kachanoff.
Working Dogs: Tales from Animal Planet's K-9 To 5 World ─ Written by Colleen Needles and Kit Carlson.
Hero Dogs: 100 True Stories of Daring Deeds ─ Written by Peter C. Jones and Lisa MacDonal, here is a one of the stories:.

Merle is a 65-pound Golden Retriever from Evansville, Indiana. One day when she was out with her pet buddy Sam, she fell through the ice while chasing a stick. Terrified that his dog was in trouble, 10-year-old Glenn "Sam" Henderson tried to save her. But, he fell in as well. A neighbor heard his cries for help, luckily, and called the Perry Township Volunteer Fire Department.
Witnesses credit Merle with saving Sam's life. "We've never had anything quite like this. The whole time it looked like the dog was behind him, nudging him, keeping him up and pushing him toward the ice," said Goeff L. Rupe, medical officer for the fire department. "Once we got Sam into the boat, the only thing he said was, 'Get my dog.'"
Unhurt despite this ice plunge, Merle swan to the shore, and waited on the bank while Sam was rowed to safety. She continued pacing nervously waiting outside of the ambulance while Sam was stripped, dried off, and wrapped in a blanket. Sam had to be rushed to Deaconess Hospital so he could be treated for his hypothermia. Sam and Merle were reunited at home. "We'll have to find a nice steak bone for Merle," said Sam's father. As for Sam, Mr. Henderson said, "He can have whatever he wants to eat today but, much to his dislike, he's got some homework to do."     

Why Dogs Risk their Lives to Save Humans

The following insightful article was written by Dr. Stanley Coren, professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia. It was published in the Canadian Globe and Mail on January 8, 2010.

The Evolution of Heroism Why would a dog risk its life to save a human? Genetics may hold the answer

It might be just a holdover from childhood fantasies, but most dog owners believe that one of the special defining aspects of dogs is their desire to help us. At some level, we trust that our dogs will have the intelligence to recognize when their help is needed, and the courage to place their personal safety at risk to save the lives of their beloved human families. Perhaps it harkens back to a primitive human being huddled near a small fire, looking fearfully into the darkness yet somehow reassured because a dog is resting quietly nearby. There is an enduring psychological comfort that we seem to draw from a confidence that in a time of crisis our dogs will turn into heroes, saviours, rescuers or faithful defenders, just like Lassie, Rin Tin Tin, Benji and every other dog star we have seen depicted in the movies.

Take the recent case of 11-year-old Austin Forman of Boston Bar, B.C. He was out gathering firewood, accompanied by his golden retriever, Angel, when she began barking frantically. A few moments later, he saw a cougar charging toward him. Suddenly, the cat was intercepted as Angel rushed to the boy's rescue. As the two animals were locked in combat, Austin had time to dash into the protection of his nearby house. An emergency phone call brought an RCMP officer, who happened to be only minutes away. When he arrived, the animals were still fighting, but he managed to shoot the cougar. Angel's first response on staggering to her feet, wounded and bleeding, was to weakly return to Austin and lick the hand of her young charge. Austin's mother, Sheri, summarized the feelings of all present when she said, “Now she's our guardian angel.”

While this case is heartwarming and supports the idea that our furry friends can rise to the stature of heroes if circumstances require them to so, for a psychologist, or a researcher concerned with the evolution of behaviour, what happened here is a puzzle. Why should dogs try to help us? More specifically, why should a dog put its life at risk to save a human being.

As part of the research I did for my book Why Does My Dog Act That Way?, I looked at 1,006 published reports of cases where dogs saved the lives of people.

Because I was interested in what dogs naturally do, I eliminated any reports involving guide dogs, police patrol dogs and search-and-rescue dogs that were deliberately trained to assist people, even if the animal was acting heroically by doing something that it was not trained for, such as a guide dog that defended its blind owner from the attack of a mugger. I also excluded any stories that appeared to be simply unbelievable, such as “Dog Drives Sick Owner to the Hospital.”

My analysis showed four ways in which dogs sometimes save human lives. The most common (accounting for about 35 per cent of the cases) involves sounding the alarm. These are cases when dogs set up a commotion and frantically alert family members because of smoke, fire, gas leaks and so forth. This makes sense, since part of the domestication process of dogs included carefully selecting animals that bark. Wild canines, such as wolves, seldom bark. Our primitive ancestors recognized that the bark of a dog could be helpful, alerting a village to the approach of predatory animals or threatening strangers. A dog in their home could serve as a sort of biological burglar alarm. So we modified the genetic makeup of dogs to bias them toward warning us of danger. This is the kind of help that Angel at first offered to Austin, alerting him to impending danger from the cougar by barking, although in this instance, the warning was not understood and more direct assistance was needed.

The second most common form of assistance (about 22 per cent) involves bringing help to a victim. This is more complex, since the dog must recognize a problem affecting a human, then find another human to assist, and finally guide him or her back to the site of the trouble. This behaviour usually consists of finding a potential rescuer, barking at them, then running in the direction of the problem, and repeating this until the human actually follows the dog. Max Lovett of Alliston, Ont., and his Irish setter, Caleigh, provide a recent example. When Mr. Lovett had a heart attack while playing in a snowy field with Caleigh, the dog raced to a nearby farmer and brought him to his master's aid before he froze to death on that cold winter day.

The third form of assistance (about 20 per cent) involves pulling, grabbing or pushing people to safety. These include the cases where a dog saves a drowning person, or someone who has fallen through ice, by pulling them to safety. Big dogs, such as Newfoundlands, seem to be specialists at this type of rescue.

In the movies, heroic dogs are most often called upon to do battle. Usually this requires them to physically protect their master from bad men with guns, marauding grizzly bears, escaped circus tigers and so forth. In reality, these cases of physical intervention for protection, such as Angel leaping forward to confront the cougar, involve just under one in every five cases (18 per cent). These are also the cases that most puzzle researchers.

We know that dogs often risk their own lives and safety to help human beings. A traditional view of how evolution works, however, suggests that they should not. The theory of evolution was based on a concept of “the survival of the fittest,” in which fitness is measured by how many offspring an animal will produce. In 1871, Charles Darwin wrestled with the problem of heroic acts when he said, “He who was ready to sacrifice his life, as many a savage has been, rather than betray his comrades, would often leave no offspring to inherit his noble nature.”

When Darwin looked beyond the individual, things made more sense, since the presence of individuals who are helpful and self-sacrificing might improve the likelihood that a family, group, tribe or species would survive. Darwin suggested that “a tribe including many members who were always ready to give aid to each other and sacrifice themselves for the common good, would be victorious over most other tribes; and this would be natural selection.” This selection would favour a genetic makeup that includes the gene or genes making individuals more likely to be helpful, even at risk to themselves.

For this theory to work, however, heroic individuals have to be discriminating about whom they are willing to risk their lives for. It would require heroes to help not just anybody, but to be more likely to act when their own relatives are involved. This is important since relatives share certain genes with one another. Thus when an individual who is carrying the helpful gene saves the life of a relative, there is a reasonable likelihood that the individual who is saved is also carrying copies of that gene. How likely this is depends on how closely the individuals are related. This means that genes for helping can spread by natural selection. Although that gene causes an individual to behave in a way that might reduce the individual's own fitness, it will increase the fitness of his relatives, who will have a greater than average chance of carrying the gene themselves.

If helping requires kinship, this “survival of the genes” explanation of why dogs help people would seem to fail, since dogs and humans are not even of the same species. Here again, however, man seems to have intervened. Our domestic dogs have been bred to accept socialization or identification, not just with other dogs, but with people who care and are kind to them. Simply living with particular group of humans causes dogs to view those people as packmates and perhaps even as family members with strong kinship ties, despite their difference in species. Thus in times of crisis, dogs will come to our defence because they feel that they are defending their family.

Human beings step in to assist in the evolution of these helpful behaviours. It is certainly true that heroic dogs get benefits as a result of assisting people. A canine hero will get good housing, food, protection and medical care, and their puppies will also be cared for. In this way humans help to preserve the genes of the heroic dog.

One can speculate that heroic dogs, in turn, might have an effect on human genetics and evolution. Because it is more likely that dogs will assist those people who have been kind to them, this might allow caring people to live longer. This means that a dog's heroism toward people might make it more likely that the caring genes in humans will also be passed on and multiply in the future.

We infer that Austin Forman must have been kind enough to Angel that they bonded to the degree that she would risk her life for him. So thank you, Angel, for keeping him alive, helping genetically to strengthen and ennoble our species.

Some of the articles here contain copyrighted material, the use of which has not always been specifically authorized by the copyright owner. I am making such material available in my efforts to advance understanding of social justice and human bond issues, among others. I believe this constitutes a 'fair use' of any such copyrighted material as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright Law. In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, the material in this article is distributed without profit for research and educational purposes.