John Kelly: “Hero dogs put their best paws forward to save their owners’ lives”

From a Washington Post column by John Kelly headlined “Hero dogs put their best paws forward to save their owners’ lives”:

I’m trying to think if my dog, Archie, has ever saved my life. Nope. But others of his ilk — four legs, furry — have done exactly that for their humans.

In a recent column, I shared the story of a beagle named Milo who alerted his owner to the shouts of a neighbor who had fallen in her bathroom. Readers shared their own stories of remarkable pet rescues.

Bette Pappas and Jim Burks of North Bethesda, Md.,adopted a dog named Zoe in 1997. One day a few months later, Jim filled a teapot with water, put it on the stove and turned on the burner.

“After turning on the stove, Jim then went upstairs and took a nap,” Bette wrote. “He is a heavy sleeper.”

The lid of the teapot — made from some sort of synthetic material — caught fire. Then a nearby wood cutting board started to burn. The varnish on the cabinets above the stove began bubbling.

There were no smoke detectors on that floor. But there was a rescue dog.

“Zoe — not a snugly or cuddly dog — went upstairs and shoved her snout into Jim’s face to wake him up,” Bette wrote. “And he was able to contain the fire. Zoe saved the day.”

Something similar happened to Fort Washington, Md.’s Ed Druy when his family lived in New Haven, Conn.

“My 2-year-old son had a bedroom at the other end of the house, in a room above the garage,” Ed wrote. “There was a small closet with a bare lightbulb in his room, with clothes piled on a shelf just below the bulb.”

One morning at 2 a.m., the family was awakened by Bama, their border collie. Bama was whining and growling nonstop.

“He kept running between our bedroom and my son’s bedroom,” Ed wrote. “I dragged myself out of bed, smelled smoke, and then saw flames coming from beneath my son’s closet.”

The light had been left on and heat from the bulb had set the clothes on fire. Ed was able to douse the flames and call the fire department.

“Bama got a well-deserved steak dinner that night, as I’m sure he saved not only my son, but the house as well,” he wrote.

Patricia Cassidy lives on a houseboat at a marina in Vancouver, B.C. She was up late on a dark and stormy February night three years ago when she noticed that her Siberian husky, Mika, was roaming the deck, doing husky “yips” for no apparent reason.

“You may be aware that Siberians seldom bark,” Patricia wrote. “She ran around our large deck, slipping on the ice and sleet, starting to yowl.”

As Patricia grabbed Mika to bring her inside, she heard a faint “Help” coming from the water. It was their neighbor, who had tripped on the walkway while walking his husky, Lulu, and wound up in the Fraser River.

“He’d been yelling for over 10 minutes,” Patricia wrote. Her spouse plucked the man from the water.

“A lot of things came together that night to ensure a happy ending,” she wrote.

During the big snowstorm of early 1987, Diana Furchtgott-Roth was awakened about 3 a.m. by the whining of her blind Australian shepherd, Panda.

“I went to calm him down but nothing appeared amiss,” Diana wrote. “As I got back into bed, half of the massive 100-year-old oak tree in our Bethesda backyard came down on the house. Branches crushed the roof and the attic, and protruded through our bedroom ceiling. Panda knew before we did.”

Sue Okun’s dog — a golden retriever named Sadie — once stood in her Chevy Chase, D.C., backyard barking at the fence between her house and her neighbor’s.

“When I went out to see what she was barking at, it turns out our neighbor’s large evergreen was leaning towards the fence and our house and slowly breaking along the trunk,” Sue wrote. “We think Sadie must have heard some otherwise imperceptible creaking as the tree trunk bent. The neighbors were able to stabilize the tree with ropes until a tree company could come and cut it down.”

In 1975, Norman and Marna Cary lived on the bottom floor of a Hyattsville, Md., garden apartment building that backed onto woods near the Northwest Branch of the Anacostia River.

“From our living room we had a sliding-glass door which opened up onto this wooded area,” wrote Norman.

Their five-pound miniature Peekapoo, Ratcliff, would sometimes spend time outside, leashed on a small patio.

“One day I went to open the door to let Ratcliff out; he grabbed my pants leg and pulled me back,” wrote Norman, who lives in Rockville, Md., now. “It happened a second time. I looked outside, and there was a copperhead sunning itself on the concrete pad. Ratcliff saved me from a nasty confrontation.”

Good dogs, all!

John Kelly writes John Kelly’s Washington, a daily look at Washington’s less-famous side. Born in Washington, John started at The Post in 1989 as deputy editor in the Weekend section.

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