Celebrated on August 26 every year, National Dog Day encourages pet adoptions and honors dogs who save lives, keep us safe and bring us comfort. Created in 2004 by pet lifestyle expert Colleen Paige, the holiday falls on the date her family adopted their first rescue dog. Among the ways you can celebrate are by adopting a dog of your own or donating $5 to your local animal shelter.
In honor of National Dog Day, meet three rescued dogs who really “pawed” it forward this year by saving the lives of their forever family members.
Leon Alerts Family to Home Intruders
As Theresa Lero was feeding her horses outside her Gulfport, Miss., home early one April morning, two armed and masked men entered her house.
When she went inside, her rescue dog, Leon, was growling at the door to the sunroom. Peeking through a window, Lero saw a man with a gun.
She ran to wake up her husband. Grabbing a gun, she ran back to the sunroom with her dog by her side. “Get ‘em, Leon,” she told him.
The men began shooting. They missed Lero, but shot Leon in the head. “You shot my dog. I’ll kill you myself,” Lero yelled at them. A neighbor heard her and called 911.
The intruders ran off and were later caught by police. In the meantime, the Leros rushed Leon to the veterinarian. Amazingly, the bullet skimmed his skull and exited out his ear. He was able to walk in and out of the animal hospital.
For saving his family, Leon was given a framed certificate of bravery from the county sheriff.
When the Leros adopted their dog from a shelter two years ago, they thought he was a redbone coonhound, so they named him after the singer Leon Redbone. As it turns out, Leon may actually be a red nose pit bull. One thing is certain: Leon is definitely a hero.
Haus Saves Girl from Rattlesnake
In May, 7-year-old Molly Deluca was playing in her Tampa backyard with Haus, the German Shepherd her family adopted in March from a rescue organization, when her grandmother noticed Haus jump in front of the girl and then rear up.
He was protecting her from a venomous Eastern diamondback rattlesnake that had slithered in from a habitat at a nearby state park. Haus “had every opportunity to run but he didn’t,” Molly’s mother, Donya Deluca, told the Associated Press.
Molly was unharmed, but Haus was bitten three times in the leg. He was successfully treated at an animal hospital for kidney damage, and was given a blood transfusion and anti-venom. A week later, Haus was well enough to return home. His expensive veterinary bills were covered by generous donations from an online fundraising campaign. Haus received a Heroic Dog Award from PETA.
“He just exceeded our expectations all the way around,” Molly’s dad, Adam DeLuca, told the Associated Press. “He’s the type of dog that when you want to go buy a dog, you pay thousands of dollars and that’s the dog you get. But we adopted him and got him for free.”
Earl Wakes Up New Owner as House Burns
Barely a week after he was adopted from Petco’s Stray Animal Adoption Program in July, a pug named Earl rescued his new dog mom by alerting her to a house fire in their Erlanger, Ky., home.
“He just fell asleep with me on the couch along with (another dog named) Tucker, and the next thing I know, he’s waking me up, licking my face. It’s the first time he’s done that,” Kristina Brate told WLWT.
The fire, believed to have been caused by faulty wiring, started in the basement and quickly spread through the rest of the house.
Brate lost almost everything in the fire, but she’s alive thanks to Earl. Petco awarded the hero dog with a $500 shopping spree to help replace the lost pet items and also stock up on some well-deserved treats.
“I believe that he came to me for a reason,” Brate told WLWT. “I think that, for some reason, the first family had passed him up and that there’s a reason why I got him.”
Photo credit: YouTube
Physically, psychologically and emotionally the number of ways that dogs save us is almost limitless!