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When Rocky’s owner Floyd Tibbetts of Susanville, Calif., collapsed during a hike due to a low heart rate, the 4-year-old Labrador retriever licked his face and hands to keep him awake on what ended up being a seven-hour trek home. “Floyd would have died in the woods, and we would have never found him,” said Tibbetts’s wife, Dawn.
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After a trip to the doctor’s office for an allergy shot, Heidi Parker of Palmyra, Va., was awakened from a nap by her 3-year-old English bulldog mix. Chilly had licked her face and whined until Parker opened her eyes and realized her throat was swollen to the point where she could hardly breathe, due to an anaphylactic reaction to the injection. “I’m not sure who rescued who here,” said Parker, who called for help just in time, “but Chilly is definitely my guardian angel.”
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Three-year-old Rhodesian Ridgeback mix Mabeline was in a grassy St. Petersburg, Fla., field – where local animal shelter volunteers go to walk dogs – when she heard the cry. A registered sex offender had pulled her 17-year-old walker down by her ponytail and started to attack her, so Mabeline began barking and growling until the predator ran away (he was later arrested). When the pooch’s new owner, Mary Callahan, heard the story, she looked at Mabeline and thought, “You’re a hero.”
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No one noticed the fire at first because the family was asleep – and the smoke alarm batteries were dead. Then, the 6-year-old tabby cat let out a “horrible cry,” recalled Kathy Rinehart and John Scheffler of Lancaster, Pa., as their room filled up with smoke. Taz’s alert meant they were able to flee with their daughter and six of their eight pets, and a fireman later told Rinehart that the cat saved their lives.
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The 1-year-old pit bull mix’s owner Dona Timoney was lying unconscious in a state park when a passerby noticed the dog and tried to guide her by the leash to a ranger. Instead, Lilly lead the way to her person. Timoney, who was diagnosed with a brain aneurysm at the hospital, died 12 days later, but her daughter Amanda decided to keep Lilly in the family. “Some people said to me after my mother died, ‘I hope you can find her a good home,’” recalled Amanda. “She’s got a home.”