Not your average mutt

March 5, 2012

When you let your pooch out this morning for his sniff around and assessment of the property, consider how he'd react to a threat. Some pets are wonderful companions but are untrained and not expected to do much more than provide a soft coat to caress.

Others rise above their circumstances, sometimes unexpectedly, to do surprising things.

The latter are the candidates for this year's SPCA Hero Dog awards, and nominations are open.

Is there a Balto in your household? He's the black Husky who in 1925 lead a sled team carrying life-saving medicine to remote Nome Alaska (the only airplane available at the time was dismantled for the winter). Media made much of the epic run, and Balto's body was preserved at a Cleveland museum. There is a statue to his feat in Central Park as well.

Do you know a dog that deserves this kind of credit?

Running through the snow was in Balto's blood. But this dog was trained to sniff out bombs in Afghanistan, and with his skill, soldiers were able to avoid sure death. Sadly, when his handler was killed by a sniper the dog died too.  As a result, the United Kingdom is considering a special award for his service.

Average dogs sometimes surprise their owners by reacting to intruders, as did this Scottish pup, who is recovering from wounds received from would-be burglars. There are plenty more like him, as this list of hero dogs attests: pets who rescued their owners from overturned vehicles, pulled people from snowstorms and even protected family members from poisonous snakes.

Recently, homeless shelters began loosening policies against pets to accommodate special companions like this dog who shielded his owner from a beating by her boyfriend.

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Published: March 5, 2012

Author: Allison O'Leary Murray

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Word Count: 283

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