Researching this subject was a little too much. May of cried multiple times while muttering 'precious angels' under my breath. The following are five stories about six dogs that went above and beyond for the title of Man's Best Friend - plus some illustrations by yours truly of said guardian angels.
Barry der Menschenetter
Barry (1800-1814) was a Kuherhund - a breed predating the St Bernard - who worked as a mountain rescue dog in Switzerland for the Great St Bernard Hospice. During his career, he was credited with over 40 rescues which earned him the nickname 'Menschenetter' meaning 'people rescuer' in German.
There are many legends surrounding Barry, but his is most famous act of courage is the rescue of a young boy lost in the snow. He licked his hands and face to keep him warm, then carried him on his back down the mountain to the safety of the Hospice. This act of bravery was immortalized in a monument which stands opposite the entrance to the Cimetiere des Chiens pet cemetery in Paris. It reads 'Il sauva la vie à 40 personnes. Il fut tué par le 41ème': Barry saved the lives of forty people, but died while attempting to save his forty-first. The story goes that Barry was stabbed to death with a bayonet by a Swiss solider who was lost in the mountains. Barry was attempting to rescue the man when he mistook him for a wolf. Luckily, this was discovered to be untrue. After 12 years as a champion rescuer, Barry retired to Bern where he lived until the ripe old age of 14.
In his honor, one dog at the Hospice is always named Barry, and his preserved body can be seen at the Natural History Museum of Bern, Switzerland.
Honey the Determined Puppy
Honey the English Cocker Spaniel Puppy was awarded the Dog of the Year award in 2006 for saving her owner from a terrible car accident - despite being only 5 months old. Micheal Bosch was trapped after crashing his car which had fallen 50 ft down a ravine. He pushed Honey out through a hole in the windshield and begged her to go and get help. Honey managed to crawl up from the ravine and run a quarter of a mile through thick bramble and forest to the nearest house where she whimpered and scratched until the homeowner opened the door. She then got to get them to follow her and led them straight the accident site. Bosch had been hanging upside down for nearly 8 hours before the rescue team got to him and almost certainly would of been dead if it hadn't been for his determined puppy.
Nemo A534 : the Vietnam Veteran
On December 4th 1966, Nemo the German Shepherd was patrolling with Airman Bob Thorneburg at a cemetary near an airbase in Vietnam. Not long after they arrived, Nemo alerted his handler to enemy presence but before Thorneburg could respond they came under attack. Thorneburg was shot twice in the shoulder while Nemo was struck in the eye. This didn't deter the brave dog however, who fought on despite his injury, giving Thorneburg the time he needed to call for reinforcements. Nemo continued to protect his handler after he lost consciousness due to his injuries, crawling over his body and shielding him from harm. They both recovered from their ordeal, although Nemo was blinded in his right eye. He was the first dog to return to the U.S from Vietnam with Honors and was given a permanent Kennel to retire to at the Department of Defence Dog Centre in Texas which now stands as a monument to him.
Babu : Lazy Shih Tzu turned Life Saver
In March 2011 in Miyako Japan, 11 year old Babu the Shih Tzu was unsettled and nervously circling her living room. Lazy in her old age, it was unusual for her to pester for a walk. Reluctantly, her 83 year old owner Tami Akunuma fetched her lead. Once out of the house, Babu immediately started heading in a different direction to their usual morning walk, dragging Tami up a steep hill. When her pace slackened Babu would look back, seemingly urging her owner to quicken her pace. As soon as she caught up, the Shih Tzu would be off again, pulling at her lead, dragging her further uphill. When Tami finally stopped to catch her breath, she realised they had covered over a kilometer in a matter of minutes. Turning around - she was taken aback. The route they had just walked up had disappeared under a torrent of muddy water and her home had been completely submerged. Babu had just saved her from a Tsunami.
Tank and Muck
In 2007, Partners in crime Tank the Rottweiler cross and Muck the Staffordshire Bull Terrier were awarded the RSPCA Purple Award for Bravery after the pair saved a two year old boy from drowning. When Max Hillier went missing from his home in Mackay, Australia, a frantic search ensued. A Neighbour was alerted by the sound of frenzied barking coming from a dam on a bordering property. They found Max soaking wet on the bank with Tank - who was equally wet - standing protectively over him. Muck was pacing up and down between the boy and the dam, as if to prevent the child from re-entering the water. The marks on the boys arms and drag marks on the bank clearly displayed what had happened - Tank had jumped in after Max and dragged him from the dam, saving the toddler from drowning.