Golden lab service dog Yolanda and her master Maria Colon help take care of each other. Maria is in her 60’s and has been blind for the last 23 years. Yolanda connects her to the outside world.
Early Thursday morning, Maria awoke from her sleep because of the smell of smoke. She gave her dog, Yolanda, the code word “Danger” and Yolanda called the police on a special phone she had learned to use. She then guided Maria downstairs and safely out of the house before police arrived.
Both Yolanda and Maria were hospitalized for smoke inhalation, and Yolanda also suffered an injury to her cornea.
But, this wasn’t the first time Yolanda has helped her owner. Last year, Maria fell in the house and was knocked unconscious. Yolanda, on her own, dialed the police who came and took care of Maria.
As they say in the commercials “But wait – there’s more”. In the previous year, 2013, while her owner was sleeping upstairs, Yolanda heard men inside the house talking downstairs. Yolanda started growling, closed the bedroom door, went downstairs and bravely chased the men away. As they were leaving, one of the men turned on the stove’s gas.
When Yolanda’s owner came down to find out what all the barking and noise was about, she smelled the gas and called the police. Turns out they were on the way – Yolanda had already called them.
She’s definitely a keeper.
Source: The Daily Mail
Dogs are “the single greatest force protecting our troops against IEDs.”
The Atlantic, May 1, 2012
It’s winter in Helmand, Afghanistan. 20 US soldier crouch for cover in a sprawling grape field that includes low mud walls covered with windblown leaves. The platoon has just endured an insurgent attack and the gunfire has just quieted. Staff Sargetn Justin Kits and his dog Dyngo begin clearing the area for explosives. Dyngo is sniffing the ground and Kitts notices that the dog has slowed his pace and become very deliberate – a signal that he has found and IED. A short time later, they move to the other side of the field to search the other road to the field and find another one. Each bomb is made of around 50 pounds of explosives buried two feet underground and attached to a pressure plate hidden on the road. The insurgents had fired on the platoon to box it into an IED trap.
Had either of the bombs gone off that day, Kitts, Dyngo and any other soldier within three car lenghts would have been in the kill zone and those beyond could have been wounded.
Over the last seven months, they have patrolled 1000 hours in the countryside, found 370 pounds of explosive and uncovered four IEDs and received awards for valor.
A year earlier, a dog named Cairo accompanied the Nave Seals team that hunted down the world’s most wanted terrorist – Osama Bin Laden, showing the importance that dogs have in critical assignments.
Dog’s noses have several million more olfactory receptors than the human nose and can distinguish between a wide range of different bomb-making materials and can find large quantities of explosives buried upwards of five feet underground. The agency charged with the task of defeating IEDs, the JIEDDO, announce that it had found that the single greatest force in detecting IEDs was indisputably a dog and its handler. IEDs are the most menacing weapon in insurgents’ arsenal. They are “sickeningly cheap, easy to make, their results terrifying”. Use of IED’s have unfortuantely spread and have been used in 113 countgries (including 28 people killed from IED’s in the USA). Given the expansion of these dangerous devices, there are reports that, despite the fact that dogs are the best counter weapon to IEDs, working dog programs are feeling the pinch of belt tightening cutbacks.
One of the resources that may be on the chopping block is the Interservice Advance Skills K9 Corse at Yuma – considered the premier pre-deployment training course. It is staffed by highly experienced instructors who deployed with their dogs into war zones. Its location resembles the Middle East and Afghanistan and is available to all branches of the military. Handler and dog teams go through detection drills to locate bombs planted near buildings, under rock piles, in ceilings, abandoned vehicles and other situations, the more unexpected, the better.
Instructors change the location of bombs and pressure plates. If a dog or handler step on a plate. a loud siren goes off and the pair are considered “blown up”. When the teams avoid the pressure plates, the instructors are happily relieved. While it’s impossible to anticipate all the possible situations, the teams leave much better prepared for when they have to do it for real.
A year ago, 13 year old Annie saw five week old Blitzen at the National Animal Welfare Trust shelter in Cornwall, England and fell in love with him. She asked her parents if they could take him home, and the family decided to adopt him. A year later, about 4:00 PM in the cold winter afternoon, Annie said goodbye to her mom and took Blitzen out for their regular afternoon walk. An hour passed and Annie had not returned home. When it got dark and Annie and Blitzen had not yer returned home, her mother got concerned and call the Cornwall police who assembled and sent out a search and rescue team. With the sun down, the temperature had dropped furthere and become extremely cold. There now was great concern about Annie getting hypothermia.
The darkness made the search more difficult for the team. Slowly, the hours passed, 7 o’clock, 8 o’clock then 9 and the search team kept looking. They were starting to feel the cold, but they kept looking. 10 o’clock, then eleven, the team the team searched with their flashlights to woods, bushes, ravines searching for Annie. Around midnight, a team member saw the light from his flashlight reflected in two animal eyes. He went closer to investigate – the eyes were Blitzen;s eyes. He called out to his teammates and they converged towards the dog and saw him curled around Annie as he tried to keep her warm. As they got closer, Blitzen rose up, left Annie and placed himself between Annie and the strangers to protect her. The search team members were able to convince Blitzen that they were not going to hurt Annie. Only then did he let them to proceed. Blizten returned back to Annie and laid down next to her again. The team members saw an injury on Annies head – apparently she had slipped, fallen and hit her head knocking her unconscious. Blitzen had stayed by her side for those many hours keeping her warm and protecting her until she was rescued. Annie was carried to the road where an ambulance picked her up and took her to the hospital where she stayed for two days making a full recovery.
We don’t know exactly what time Annie fell, but if Blitzen hadn’t stayed with her and kept her warm she could have died from hypothermia”. His “determination to stay by her side undoubtedly saved our daughter’s life”. “We saved him and then he saved Annie…He’s a “fantastic dog”.
In December of 2011, two young sisters started to cross a busy road in Zamboanga City, Phillipines, when a motor tricycle suddenly appeared near them. Seeing that the two girls were about to be run over, Kabang, a mixed shepherd, dashed out onto the road and placed her body between the two girls and the onrushing vehicle which crashed into the dog. The dog was badly injured, but her heroic act set off a chain of events ending in an international effort to raise funds to save her life and repair her injuries.
Kabang traveled to the United States are she was worked on by veterinary doctors from the University of California-Davis. Seven months later she returned to Zamboanga City. The injury was so severe that a dog lost the upper part of her snout leaving her with a gruesome appearance with only half a face. Upon her return, she was welcomed by the city’s grateful residents and treated to a motorcade. The City Council issued an executive order recognizing her as the city’s ” Ambassador of Dog Will”. Officials said ” if there’s something to be learn from the whole experience, is that the impulse to do good and make sacrifices present and everyone in that if non-humans like Kabang can do it, so much so could humans”. In committing her sacrifice, Kabang “literally lost half of her face but etched a lasting impression of her heroism in the consciousness of those who have read her story”.
Pittsburgh January 30, 2014
It was like something out of a horror movie- the worst nightmare for police officers. Rocco, a police K9 dog, was accompanying two police officers who were in a dark basement trying to capture a 21 year-old convicted sex offender also wanted for a violent home invasion. They moved cautiously in the darkness trying to not get surprised. They had no idea what the man might be armed with or what he might have found in the basement that could be used as a weapon. Rocco felt the tension and all of his senses were on full alert. He detected the escapee who then lunged at the police officers with a knife. In the violent life and death fight, the attacker injured both Rocco’s handler and the other police officer. Rocco also fought the felon, and it was he who got the attacker to drop his knife – despite receiving a 6 inch slash along his back muscle, that cut into and destroyed his kidney, and chipped bone from his spine.
After multiple surgeries trying to save him, Rocco seemed to improve only to suffer setbacks. Rocco then began to bleed internally and and quickly lost ground. Rocco received transfusions of 1 1/2 times his blood volume. Six police officers kept a vigil for their K9 partner. Sadly, Rocco died from his wounds inflicted in the fight.
Pittsburgh Steelers’ quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, whose foundation provides dogs for police departments, said” our condolences go out to Officer Phil Lerza in the loss of his partner Rocco… (who has) faithfully served in the Pittsburgh Police Department for the last eight years. It is unfortunate situations like this that keeps our foundation doing what it does and why we’re so passionate about trying to help protect our law enforcement officers. Thank-you Rocco for your service and dedication”
In the wake of Rocco’s death,Pittsburg City officials ordered flags to be flown at half mast at all city buildings to honor the fallen canine officer.