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Dog are Unsung Heroes: Loyal, compassionate, dutiful, and protective, dogs are truly man’s best friends. All these adjectives define what our beloved pets mean to us. Dogs have been by our side for millenniums, from aiding hunter-gatherers to being household pets. They have provided us with comfort, protection, and companionship.
The term “man’s best friends” was first coined by Frederick the Great in eighteenth-century Persia. Dogs are indeed unsung heroes and don’t get enough appreciation and recognition, especially for people with disabilities. The stories that we hear on the news regarding dogs and their noble acts merely scratch the surface of what happens across the world.
A study by Ramiro Joly-Mascheroni, Atsushi Senju, and Alex J Shepherd stated that dogs catch human yawns and that this “may indicate that dogs possess the capacity for a rudimentary form of empathy.” Annika Huber studies dog behavior at Switzerland’s University of Bern Veterinary Public Health Institute. She believes that dogs may experience human-like emotions and feelings that result in empathy.
Countless stories narrate how dogs saved their owners’ lives by risking their own. CNN Health has tried to explore this wonderful phenomenon and tried to explain the science behind lifesaving dogs. Dogs have also saved the lives of strangers they have never encountered or share a bond with.
Dogs also provide various services to people, which range from helping people with disabilities to sniffing out drugs and serving alongside soldiers at the front line. Humans have trained dogs to make use of their heightened senses in performing various tasks.
To appreciate these unsung heroes, let’s take a look at some ways in which dogs help people:
Military dogs are trained to help soldiers survive in battle. Soldiers gain an advantage over their opponents when they have a trained canine by their side. In both major world wars, dogs have been used to spot wounded soldiers, identify enemies, deliver messages, soothing anxious soldiers, etc.
Sergeant Stubby was one such dog that served in the Yankee Division of the 102nd Infantry of World War 1. He was recognized as a hero after fighting and saving his comrades from being harmed by gas. He would bark out warnings when enemies were near, which saved the lives of tens and hundreds of soldiers who managed to stay clear of the line of fire.
The military later recognized Sergeant Stubby’s heroic efforts, which paved the way for other military dogs who served in World War 2. A formal training center was created for dogs, called the Department of Defense Military Working Dogs Training School (DoD MWD) at Lackland. Labradors and German Shepherds trained in these institutes can track drugs, weapons, gases, bombs, etc., more accurately than other invented by the military.
Service dogs help people with disabilities become independent by not having to rely on other people. They are trained to perform various tasks according to aid people with different disabilities. A disability is a mental or physical impairment that limits the functionality of people. Dogs help increase functionality by assisting people perform daily activities.
For example, they guide visually impaired people move around safely without getting hurt. They alert deaf and hard-of-hearing people to sounds such as the honking of an oncoming vehicle. Medical alert dogs can realize when people are suffering from episodes of heart attacks, seizures, low blood sugar, etc.
Psychiatric service dogs help people who suffer from mental health conditions such as obsessive-compulsive disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety in managing symptoms. They calm down people and help ground them by providing comfort and company. They may even perform tasks such as turning on the light to reduce stress when people have a mental breakdown. They also alert others when their owners need attention or assistance.
It is not just specially trained dogs who help people. Our beloved pets with no formal training also save us in many ways on many occasions. Here are some famous stories about how dogs saved their owners’ lives:
A Doberman Pinscher saved his owner’s life just a few days after being rescued from a shelter. Her newly adopted dog saved a baby girl of two years of age from being bitten by a King Brown snake. King Browns are extremely venomous. The dog saw this snake slithering towards the baby and immediately stepped up to push the snake away, getting bit itself instead. It took the dog a few weeks to recover from the bite after receiving anti-venom.
Enjoying a swim in the sea, a young girl became tired while swimming and started to drown. She screamed for help. Just at that moment, a blind dog was passing by at the beach with its owner. The dog was off the leash and immediately jumped into the swim and swam its way to the girl, pulling her to safety.
A Seeing Eye dog saved a woman’s life when an approaching bus driver failed to see the woman walking on the sidewalk. The dog immediately stepped in front of the woman, barked to get the driver’s attention, and stopped the woman from moving forward. The Golden Retriever was hit by the speeding bus and was badly injured. He continued to serve the woman as her Seeing Eye while recovering from the impact.
At a wedding in Nigeria, a dog got nervous around a particular woman and decided to confront her. The woman accidentally set off the bomb that she was hiding in her vest prematurely. This dog saved hundreds of people that day and sacrificed its own life in the process.
Awards like the National Hero Dog do present some appreciation to these wonderful and brave animals, but dogs deserve so much more!
Dogs are our unsung heroes. They help and save their beloved humans on numerous occasions. The way they put themselves in danger just to protect humans shows how truly loyal these creatures are. In other words, dogs are truly a man’s best friends.