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When Iowa farmer Loren Engelbrecht, 61, was struck by a heart attack so painful he couldn’t even call for help, his Weimaraner HJ came to the rescue – nudging mom Dianna’s arm until she checked on her husband. For being a life saver, HJ was inducted into the Iowa Animal Hall of Fame this year. Now, Engelbrecht jokes, “He’s losing his hair he’s getting petted so much!”
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The Trawick family of Oklahoma City, Okla., credits DBoy with their lives. When a gun-wielding intruder barged into their house, the 2-year-old pit bull came bounding out, barking, then took three bullets. He survived, and scared the intruder away, earning him the People’s Hero title in the Humane Society’s 2nd Annual Dogs of Valor Awards.
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In December, as Stacie Pitts and her Arkansas family slept, dangerous carbon monoxide gases were seeping into their air supply. Rescued terrier mix Miley sensed this, and tried to wake everyone up, succeeding when Pitts began to feel sick. Pitts called 911, and her family survived what doctors said was a close call. Miley’s reward? Being named a National Hero Dog by the L.A. SPCA.
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Search-and-rescue dog Ace was hailed as a star at Christmastime last year, when he found Ontario resident Donna Molnar, 55, buried in a rural snowbank after she’d been missing for three days. Rescuers had nearly give up, but the dog’s sharp nose led police right to Molnar, not far from her SUV. Thanks to Ace, she was treated for extreme hypothermia and reunited with her family in time for the holiday.
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In mid-May, American bulldog Brittney was diagnosed with terminal cancer, but instead of putting her down immediately, owner Scott Seymour chose to keep his companion around. His decision paid off on May 23, when a fire broke out in their Grand Rapids, Mich., home, and Brittney’s loud barking woke Seymour in time to save them both from the blaze.
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During a trip to North Carolina’s Outer Banks last October, Chihuahua Chi Chi saw an awful sight: two elderly ladies pulled into the sea by a strong wave. His relentless barking led owners Rick and Mary Lane to run to their aid and pluck both women to safety. Now Chi Chi is Reader’s Digest’s Hero Pet of the Year.
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St. Louis hospice nurse Mary Phillips was lying on the floor of her workplace last October, complaining of a terrible headache. When 7-year-old office maltipoo Jacque-Pierre began to lick her temple, she went to seek help. As it turns out, the little guy sensed a walnut-sized aneurysm in her brain, and saved her just in time. Phillips recovered, and was back to work two months later.
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After 90-year-old Val Cross’s Australian farm began to burn down around her in February, she attempted to run into the home to turn off the power. But rescue pup Levi knew better, and with all his might, dragged his owner away from the fire – through smoke and burning grass – to safety on a nearby dam.
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Belgian Shepherd Tach was credited with saving the life of an Alzheimer’s patient in Ireland this month, after the man went missing. Within four hours, Tach brought neighbors and police to 84-year-old Tommy Coulson, who was shaken, but safe. It was the dog’s fifth rescue in four months – quite the feat!