Golden Heroes

Dog Saves Family
WBNG News, February 13, 2009

Last week a Town of Chenango family lost their home in a fire.

But they all got out safely, thanks in part, to the next door neighbors dog.

Action News Reporter Reed Buterbaugh tells us how a Golden Retriever named Benson, is credited with saving the day. [Click on right video to see the broadcast.]

Last Friday night Ed Ippolito's house went up in flames...
As he and his family slept.

"It was completely engulfed in smoke, it was so bad I didn't even see my wife pass me in the hallway," Ed Ippolito said.

"I got the four-year-old, my husband got our two-year-old and we ran out," Collen Ippolito said.

The Ippolito's awoke to the scene, after hearing banging on their door.

It was the next door neighbors who wouldn't have found out about the fire, if not for their dog.

Five-year-old Benson is the hero. Normally he sleeps in backroom but last Friday night he was up on the front couch. He saw the Ippolito's house up in flames, alerted his owners and this canine companion saved the day.

"This was an intense bark," neighbor Jamie Szenher said. "(We) saw him leaning over the front of the couch, looking out the window. Barking at the flames."

"We don't have a dog but we will from now on," Collen Ippolito said.

Neighbors are handing out rewards to the pooch.

As well as help to the Ippolito's.

They've donated thousands of dollars in gift cards and money to get the family back on its feet.

"It pulled the whole neighborhood together which is incredible to see," neighbor Ellen Weitzenhofer said.

"You have to be humbled and take because you realize you're the one that has nothing again," Ed Ippolito said.

The Ippolito's are staying with family, as they decide whether to rebuild or find a new home.

While the hero Benson awaits a well deserved steak dinner, as promised by Colleen's father.

The Ippolito's celebrated their son's birthday Monday, just days after losing their home.

They say even in the aftermath of tragedy they were able to celebrate the simple fact of being together.


Three Legged Dog Breaks Up Robbery — Dog is a Hero
Fox 29, February 5, 2009


FORT WORTH - A Fort Worth couple and their houseguests were held at gunpoint while robbers ransacked their home.

And they fear things could have escalated had their new neighbor not intervened.

That new neighbor is Calamity Jane -- a stray Golden Retriever with just three legs.

Her terrifying bark sent several home invaders fleeing for their lives and ended 45 minutes of terror for Steven and Judy Koleman.

"Things could have turned out a lot different had it not been for her," said Steven.

The surprise break-in happened nearly two weeks ago while the couple was entertaining guests.

"There was a guy in the living room with a shotgun, and he had everyone sit down," Steven said.

"They asked for guns and money and I couldn't give them information fast enough for them."

Steven was pistol-whipped by the intruders, and fears more violence would have broken out if one of the robbers hadn't flipped on an outside light.

That caught the attention of Calamity Jane, a Golden Retriever next door who began barking loudly.

"She was agitated," Steven remembered, "so they were yelling, 'Look, there's people outside, let's go!' and there was Calamity Jane coming after them."

The dog is missing a front leg because when she was discovered on the side of the road just five weeks ago, her rescuers found she'd been shot.

The vet amputated her leg and found out something else -- she was about to give birth. She's now the mom of seven puppies.

The Kolemans believe that maternal instinct caused the normally quiet dog to react to trouble. "She sensed something, absolutely," Steven said. Fort Worth police are still looking for leads in the case.

If you'd like to rescue a dog like Calamity Jane or one of her puppies, visit Golden Retriever Rescue of Texas.

February 8, 2009 UPDATE
We received a wonderful update about Calamity Jane from Barb Justice, a long time Golden Retriever Rescue of Texas supporter

"Dear Rochelle, Calamity Jane is a little mixy, we think part collie. But she needed our help so we ignored the collie part and took her into the rescue. Her foster Mom has two Golden therapy dogs and once Calamity's pups are weaned (she came into rescue pregnant) she will begin her CGC training. Her foster Mom is adopting her and wants to use her for therapy at our large children's hospital here for kids facing amputations. She seems to have the disposition for it."

"The police department investigating the burglary have asked for therapy dog assistance for their officers and local firefighters who are traumatized by an event and just need some doggie love. When they found out Calamity's Mom was involved in pet therapy they jumped on the opportunity. So Calamity's legacy continues to positively affect folks!"

"Calamity is in a wonderful home with a beautiful house and golden siblings. Her new Mom will baby her and she will want for nothing! She has already proven that she gives back what she gets tenfold. Her new Mom is a good friend of the gal from our group who began a new Delta Society therapy group that several of our GRRNT goldens belong to. We are very proud of the sweet girl who obviously is intuitive."

"The Animal Control officer from the little town who called us is thrilled as well. Tammy works very hard to help all the shelter dogs she possibly can and begged us to take Calamity Jane. She is so happy she didn't have to put her to sleep."

"So it's a happy ending for everyone involved, but especially Calamity Jane. Her life will be filled with comfort, safety, and love from now on."


Dog Saves Woman's Life
By Cathleen O'Toole, WPBF Reporter, September 16, 2008


WPBF's Cathleen O'Toole reports on a smart service dog named Midas, who helped his master keep breathing.

Myrna has Muscular Dystrophy and only has movement in her wrist and toes. She cannot lift her arm to scratch her face. She cannot pick up her arm if it falls off her armrest. She has been partnered with her service dog, Midas, since 2001. This is her story.


Greetings. My name is Myrna and my companion's name is My Midas. He became my hero just about a month after we became partners after team training at New Horizons Service Dogs.

It was early in the morning, about 5 a.m. After getting ready to start our daily routine and go to work, Midas and I said good-bye to my husband and son. We went out the door of our apartment, to the hallway, then to the sidewalk that takes us to the parking lot, where we wait for the special transportation to pick us up and take us to my place of employment. Since this is something that we have been doing for a month, I hold the leash in my hand while we are outside. I was not aware that during the night the maintenance people had dug up part of the sidewalk leaving it uneven.

Suddenly I felt the front tire of my wheelchair sink, and because of the limited mobility in my hands I was not able to prevent what came next. The front of the wheelchair sank in the hole, and it tilted forward. I ended up in the grass face down with a 300-pound power wheelchair on top of my back. For a moment I felt that my world was about to come to an end. I could not distinguish from the darkness of the morning or from the accident. I tried to call for help, but my voice was not loud enough for anyone to hear me.

At that moment Midas somehow got the leash out of my hand, and came to me and licked me in my face, sort of making sure that I was alive. I was able to tell him, "Midas, we are in trouble. Get help."

I had no idea if he knew what I was talking about. I was just sort of talking to myself, trying to think how I got to the ground. Midas licked me one more time and left. He went back to my apartment door, got up on his back legs and started making growling noises and scratching the door. My husband was getting our son ready for school when he heard the noise. He was curious about the reason Midas was back at the door when he knew we should be out front waiting for our van pick up. He opened the door and saw Midas growling and running back and forth, sort of telling him to follow.

My husband ran outside and found me on the ground. Midas came to where I was and sat near me until my husband was able to unbuckle the seat belt and get the wheelchair off my back and then pick me up from the ground. I had bruised ribs and a bump on my forehead, but if Midas had not been there, it could have been hours before anyone noticed that I was injured. Because of his actions my injuries were less than they would have been. He kissed me twice to make sure that I stayed alert. He really might have saved my life that day.

Midas received an honorary Heroic Certificate for his bravery and for finding help for me from the Red Cross. New Horizons Service Dogs not only provided me with a lifetime partner to help me with my daily needs, but also they have given me the opportunity to expand my horizons and become active and productive member of our community again. Since I received Midas, my life has changed drastically. I have gone from being homebound and very dependent on physical assistance, with frequent panic attacks to a very independent, outgoing and active member of our community. Midas has given me a way to return to real life.

Myrna has currently completed the requirements to become an elementary school teacher and will be seeking employment in the 2005 school term.


Family twice saved by their pet dogs
By Gold Coast Publications, QLD, Australia, August 11, 2008

THE Irving family owe their lives to their beloved pets. It was their seven-month-old german shepherd Rahni who alerted them with her frantic barking when their Arundel home went up in flames late on Friday night. Lisa Irving believes that were it not for Rahni they may not have had time to flee the burning home.

Five years ago, it was another of their family pets that saved the life of the Irvings' son, John, and became the family hero.

John, with golden retriever Johben by his side, had been delivering The Sun newspaper after school near his Arundel home when a ferocious pitbull terrier charged the 13-year-old. Johben, seeing his best friend in trouble, ran and shielded John and took the brunt of the attack.

Johben, who sustained 32 puncture wounds, was later crowned the Gold Coast Bulletin Pet of the Year for his heroic instincts.

Last Friday night, Lisa Irving had been sitting outside her home in Fadden Close when Rahni started barking at the garage door about 11.15pm. "She was going off and barking like crazy and then I thought I could hear crackles," she said. "I opened the door and was thrown straight back by the fire which burned my hair. I yelled out there was a fire and everyone got moving."

Her husband, Greg, and youngest son, Ben, were inside the house at the time. Her other son, John, was out with mates. Mr Irving, who had been watching the Olympics in the lounge room, started running around the house doing his best to salvage as much as possible. Meanwhile, 16-year-old Ben jumped out of bed and escaped through the back of the house before having to knock down a side gate to reach the safety of the street. Firefighters worked to contain the blaze which engulfed the home within minutes. More than 70 per cent of the home was gutted while the rest was left with extensive smoke damage.

The family, who had been renting the property, managed to salvage clothes and other property from the back rooms of the house, but their new Ford Falcon was destroyed.

The couple did not have contents insurance but property owner Geoff Hollis said the house was insured. Fire investigators believe an electrical fault in the garage may have started the blaze.

Mrs Irving said if Rahni had not made such a fuss, the damage could have been much worse. "If it hadn't been for the dog who knows what could have happened?" she said. "It would easily have been in the lounge room before we knew what was going on and then the whole house would have been lost."

The Irvings had bought Rahni after Johben was diagnosed with cancer and was put to sleep, but had no idea their new pet would be a hero too.


Trusty golden retriever saves master's life in tribal village
By China Post News Staff, September 13, 2008

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- A middle-aged woman from a remote aboriginal tribal village is currently under careful treatment at the Puli Christian Hospital, thanks to her loyal golden retriever.

Chen-Huang Tsun-mei, 52, lives alone with her pet dog, a golden retriever by the name of "Ah Bao," meaning "treasure" or "precious one" in Chinese.

She had a stroke and lapsed into a coma Wednesday evening. Detecting something wrong with its master, Ah Bao rushed to the home of Gan Shiu-shiang, a next-door neighbor in the same village in Renai Township in central Nantou County.

Unable to talk, Ah Bao clutched Gan's pant leg and wouldn't let go. Alerted by the dog's unusual behavior, Gan went to her neighbor's home to take a look.

Finding her friend lying on the kitchen floor, she immediately dialed "119" for emergency help. A rescue team swiftly took Chen-Huan to the Puli Christian Hospital.

Doctors said Chen-Huang had a stroke with internal bleeding. They kept her in the emergency care unit for close observation.

Chen-Huang is a widow with three sons who are all presently in the military service, according to Gan. One of them bought the mother a pet for company more than one year ago. Ah Bao has since followed her everywhere.

Gan and local police officers praised Ah Bao as a smart and heroic dog. Except for enjoying the food provided by Gan and police, Ah Bao now spends most of time looking out the door to wait for its master's return.


Golden retriever brings rescue to his master
By Clayta Richards, Crossville Chronicle, August 6, 2008

Smokey, a four-year-old golden retriever, is devoted to his master, Marvin King. King has always loved Smokey, and now he is very thankful that Smokey brought help to him when he turned over the Lake Dartmoor terrain in back of his home and needed rescue.

Marvin King was trying to make life a little easier for his wife, Shirley. They had temporarily stored some flowers they had purchased in the garage at their 146 Lynhurst Dr. home in Fairfield Glade. The flowers needed to be moved into the backyard right away. So, the helpful husband climbed on his John Deere Gator to go about the task, as Shirley would be at her job at Hughes Real Estate for a good part of the day. That evening, they were looking forward to joining neighborhood friends for dinner at the Whitestone Inn at Watts Bar. Getting this job out of the way early would make the evening go better.

Smokey, the family's four-year-old golden retriever, was in his usual position, right by Marvin's side as he drove around the house. He doesn't know exactly what happened in the backyard to cause the wreck, but Marvin remembers the Gator was suddenly bounding over two retaining walls; he hit a sidewalk along the way and landed in some rocks. Sitting above Lake Dartmoor, the landscape beyond the immediate backyard is wooded and vertical. That's where Marvin was, Gator still upright, but on top of him with his ankle lodged between the vehicle and a tree. His left leg was broken, he thinks from his collision with the sidewalk. He wasn't really sure what he was going to do. It was about 11 a.m. and Shirley wouldn't be home for quite some time.

"I yelled, but I began to get sick at my stomach," remembered Marvin. "I thought, 'this is going to be a long time.'"

Smokey, very unlike himself, began to bark loudly and run back and forth from Marvin towards a next-door neighbor's yard sounding the alarm.

Keith Pontius knows Smokey Mountain Dawg (Smokey's official name) very well. "I've always liked him," said Pontius. Shirley recalled, "The family came and got Smokey one day earlier this summer, and the next day I got e-mailed pictures of him with Keith's granddaughters out in the boat on the lake."

Recognizing his main human being, Marvin, was in big trouble, Smokey seemed to know he could trust the neighbor for help. Luckily, Pontius was in his office, where side windows face the vertical part of Marvin's backyard. "I noticed Smokey's barking because he usually doesn't do that," said Pontius. It was so unusual, that he ventured outside onto the back deck. He still couldn't see Marvin, but the dog's behavior convinced him to investigate.

Pontius found his neighbor laying head pointed down towards the lake and lodged against a tree. It was obvious they'd need help, but down in the cove of the lake, the cell phone didn't have a signal, so it was back to the house to call 9-1-1.

Marvin has been a volunteer firefighter in the Glade for three years.

Keith Pontius has been a friend and neighbor of Smokey’s for a long time. Smokey trusted him to bring help to his master when he was hurt behind his Lake Dartmoore home.

"I tell you what, when that first fireman (Bob Bennett) came over the hill, he sure looked good," said Marvin. And, suddenly, it was the like the cavalry had arrived, as about 30 firefighters showed up.

Fire chief Bob Citkovic took charge and immediately saw they'd have to get Smokey contained. Marvin was going to be hard to rescue with Smokey licking his face. Pontius took the dog up the hill, but he broke loose to go back to his owner. Eventually, Smokey was convinced to stand back and let the humans take care of Marvin.

The firefighters muscled the Gator off Marvin and brought down a rescue chair to place him in while they pulled him to the top of the hill.

Marvin remembered a comment about the firefighters' struggle to get him topside. "You gave us our stress test for the year," Pat Donohue had told him.

It was hospital food for Marvin that night, not the Whitestone Inn, and that was the way it was for the next six days. He got out on the Fourth of July, and Smokey was so eager when he saw his master was home, he climbed right on top of him in the hospital bed they had set up at the house. There was a lot more face licking.

Marvin had come home with instructions he would be unable to put any weight on his foot for months. As of the date of the interview, July 30, he announced without hesitation, "It'll be nine weeks and three days with no weight on it yet." At the hospital, he had also needed two units of blood due to the effects of heavy bruising.

Recuperating now at his lakeside window above Lake Dartmoor, Marvin laments that there'll be no boating this summer and he won't be able to play golf or tend to the cup setting at Stonehenge Golf Course, where he works. But, he feels incredibly lucky to be alive. "The doctor told me that if Smokey hadn't brought help, I might have died if I'd had to lay there for several hours. I sure think a lot of this dog," said Marvin.

Marvin and Shirley moved to Fairfield Glade approximately four years ago, but have owned their Glade property over 20 years. Marvin, who was born in Kentucky, and moved north to Michigan when he was 18 years old, spent 40 years working at General Motors. Shirley had a financial planning practice with American Express in Michigan. The couple have four children (three boys and one girl) and four grandchildren — the youngest is almost four months old.


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