Dog Fun

The Incredible Stories of 10 Heroic Life-Saving Dogs

Dogs that saved their human's life.
Written by Richard Jeng

Can you imagine a 5-pound toy dog fighting off a wild animal 40 times larger to save her family? Or a service dog sacrificing his life by jumping in between an apex predator and his owner?

Dogs are a man’s best friend for a reason. They’re the loyal and loving companions that never leave your side and always have your back. 

Time and time again, these courageous companions have prevented the worst from happening by saving their owners’ life. When it comes to protecting families, a loyal dog cannot be deterred by any threat – no matter how big or scary.

In today’s article, we’re celebrating these unsung heroes by counting down the 10 most heroic dogs and what they did in these final crucial moments.

1.The Hollywood star’s Dachshund.

Canine heroes come in all shapes, sizes and breeds. Just because your dog is small, doesn’t mean they’re not capable of protecting their family. “Blackie” the Dachshund is proof of this. In fact, he was the pet of legendary actor, John Wayne. 

And in the early morning of January in 1958, Blackie saved John Wayne’s family from a fire that could have turned out a lot worse. As the fire started to worsen, Blackie started barking like a mad dog. This was an unusual thing for him to do at 3 AM in the morning.

Mrs. Wayne immediately jumped up…shocked to find that her house was covered in smoke and to see that fire was at the edge of her carpet. She quickly grabbed her 20-month old daughter and scrambled out of the house.

We owe our lives to Blackie. He always sleeps on my bed, and he always will.

– Pilar Wayne (Blackie’s Owner)

The good news was that Mrs. Wayne only suffered a mild burn to her arm and her baby was completely unscathed. Though, just about all the Wayne family’s personal belongings were lost or destroyed in the fire. 

And fortunately, John Wayne was still in Japan at the time of the fire, filming “The Barbarian and the Geisha.”

House fires don’t discriminate between the famous and the unknown, or the rich and the poor. But in this case, they were lucky to have their Dachshund named Blackie.

Oh, and don’t think Blackie’s actions went unnoticed. John Wayne personally gave Blackie a medal of honor, along with plenty of scratches and treats, for his heroic actions!

2. The Golden Retriever that saved his owner from choking.

You’d be surprised at how few people actually know how to do the heimlich maneuver. It’s a first aid procedure used to treat obstructions in a human’s upper airway. In other words, it comes in handy if you’re choking on a piece of food.

But one Golden Retriever named Toby, did just that. The owner, Debbie Parkhurst, was just eating an apple like she normally does at home. Only this time, a chunk of apple became stuck in her throat.

Debbie started panicking, as she couldn’t breathe. All she could do was attempt the heimlich maneuver on herself, though with little effect.

Toby noticed and stormed the room. He quickly pushed her on the ground and began jumping up and down on her chest! Fortunately, it worked and the piece of apple dislodged from Debbie’s throat. 

Toby wasn’t finished yet. Afterwards, he started to lick her face to prevent her from passing out due to a lack of oxygen. 

The ASPCA was so impressed with Toby that they presented him with the 2007 ASPCA dog of year award. If a Golden Retriever can perform this modified heimlich maneuver, what’s your excuse for not learning it?

3. Blind Labrador miraculously saves a drowning girl.

Dogs are so incredible that they don’t even need their vision to save a person. This heroic story involves a blind Labrador Retriever named Norman.

He was sadly abandoned by his owners, but luckily a couple had rescued him just one day before being put down. Though the couple loved Norman, they noticed that he had some trouble seeing things.

After getting checked up, they discovered that Norman had a rare eye condition and his vision was quickly worsening. And in just a few short years, Norman had gone completely blind. But that didn’t stop him from enjoying life to the fullest.

Norman spent a great deal of time at the beach because it was one of the only safe public spaces where he could run free and be…well… a dog.

However on one sunny day, Norman’s heightened sense of hearing picked up a little girl’s cry coming from the waters. He didn’t think twice and immediately raced towards the distressful screaming.

With just his hearing, Norman was able to find the little girl and safely guide her towards the shore without problems. This just proves rescue dogs are just as amazing and brave as dogs come. 

4. Newfoundland saves 27 people from the most dangerous river in Wales.

The incredible tale of Swansea Jack takes place in the 1930s around River Taw and its North Dock area. Jack was an undersized Newfoundland, often mistaken for a Labrador Retriever. But despite being smaller than usual, he did big things for his little town.

His first rescue took place in 1931, when he dragged a 12 year old boy from the river. And just a few weeks later, Jack rescued another drowning swimmer with the audience of a full crowd.

Over the course of his life, the Newfoundland had saved at least 27 people from drowning in what’s described as the most dangerous river in Wales with its fast currents and underwater rocks.

Jack quickly became a hometown hero and local legend thanks to his selflessness and eagerness to dive into the river at the smallest sign of distress. 

During his lifetime, Jack received plenty of awards, including the “bravest dog of the year” award and the Silver Cup from the National Canine Defense League.

In fact, he is still the only dog to have been awarded two bronze medals. But unfortunately in 1937, Jack would meet his demise after mistakenly eating rat poison. 

His grand memorial still stands in his hometown, and in 2000, he was awarded the “dog of the century” award by the Newfoundland Friends of Bristol.

5. A five-pound dog saves her family from a bear.

It’s not about the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog. Pickles was a petite Toy Poodle that weighed no more than 5 pounds, though that didn’t stop her from saving her family.

The owner, Tiffany Merill, had let her dog out at 6 AM for her morning walk like any other day. But on that day, it wasn’t like any other day. Tiffany left the door open, as she didn’t see anything dangerous outside.

Within a few seconds, a 200 pound bear came storming into the house. As Tiffany was screaming to the kids for them to lock their doors, the bear jumped on the couch and headed directly for her. 

The most thing I liked about Pickles was how he would put us to bed and if someone was here he would just lay next to us.

– Emily (Pickles Owner)

But in that moment, the unlikeliest of all heroes sprung into action. Pickles came roaring in with her 5 pound frame and began aggressively barking to get the bear’s attention.

Poodles are wicked smart, and Pickles knew she had to lead the bear out of the house in order to save the family. In her final act of courage, the loyal Pickles diverted the bear outside. Eventually the bear retreated back to the woods.

However Pickles was hurt bad, as she had been clawed a few times in her heroic act. Tiffany rushed her to the animal hospital, though her brave little dog eventually succumbed to her injuries. Pickles didn’t make it.

The undersized Poodle made the ultimate sacrifice to save her family, which just shows how loyal and loving dogs can be.

6. The heroic Pitbull was stabbed multiple times while saving his owner.

One cannot deny the unwavering loyalty and fierce bravery of the Pitbull Terriers. Time and time again, these dogs have come to the rescue of their owners.

But in “Chako the Pitbull’s” case, he made the ultimate self sacrifice to save his owner from domestic abuse.

On the night of Halloween in 2013, the assailant was beating Chako’s owner, which had caused a ton of commotion. As any loyal Pitbull would do, Chako got in between the attacker and his owner without hesitation.

He knew immediately that his owner was in danger and he fought viciously to save her from the assailant. Outmatched by the dog, the abusive partner resorted to a knife and stabbed Chako multiple times in an attempt to get him away.

Even with the serious injuries, Chako managed to scare off the attacker….though not before being stabbed 12 times!

The dog was immediately rushed to the hospital for a final attempt to save his life. The vets were shocked at the injuries, saying that Chako had about 8 or 10 deep cuts on his neck.

A lot of blood was lost, but after 24 hours, Chako was in stable condition and eventually made a full recovery. Had it not been for Chako, the abusive partner may have used the knife on Chako’s owner, which would have likely ended badly. 

7. Senior adopted dog sacrifices life to save his new family.

Pete was a 14-year old senior English Setter recently adopted into his new family. But despite knowing his new family for just a short amount of time, his loyalty to them did not falter.

Pete and his new family decided to go hiking in the mountains of New Jersey one day. It had just recently rained so the owner, Stephen, thought it would be nice to get the dogs out of the house.

The black bear’s sense of a smell is typically very good – in fact, it’s 7 times stronger than that of a Bloodhound’s. But because of the recent rain, the bear wasn’t able to smell the family approaching. 

When the bear finally encountered the family, he was startled. His instincts kicked in and he came gunning for the family. 

Stephen managed to get the younger dogs out of harm’s way, but only because Pete had decided to take it upon himself to fight off the black bear.

By the time Stephen made sure his family was safe, he came back and scared off the bear. But it was too late. Unfortunately, Pete took a beating and was already seriously injured with a broken back. 

I want to remember him as the happy-go-lucky dog he was. I want to remember him running through the woods, always with his tail wagging.

– Cathi (Pete’s Owner)

And after carrying Pete down the mountain and rushing him to the hospital, Stephen knew the only way was to humanely put him down. There was no other way and Stephen knew it was only right to stop the pain and suffering.

It didn’t matter how long Pete knew his new family. You could tell he was forever grateful at the family giving him a second chance and a better home.

8. Loyal service dog gave her life to save veteran owner.

Veteran Robert Lineburger had a service dog named Precious. She was trained to sense incoming seizures and alert Robert before they actually happen. That way, Robert can better prepare for his episodes, as it meant Precious was always by his side.

But one night while Robert was walking Precious in the Port Labelle Marina, he noticed an odd scratching sound just a few feet away.

The dock was poorly lit at night and it was near impossible to make out what or where the sound was coming from. But before Robert could figure out what was happening, Precious jumped in front between the threat and her owner.

It was a massive 13-foot alligator ready to attack! And in an instant, the gator got hold of Precious and dragged her into the water, leaving Robert both stunned and speechless.

The faithful companion was by his side for every waking moment for 6 years. She was essential in keeping him from having seizure episodes in dangerous situations. 

But in her final moments, Precious protected her owner one last time, though sacrificing her life to do so.

9. The Incredible Super-dog, Mason.

Hannah Bochart lived in the outskirts of Alaska, so she was already adjusted to living in harmony with the wonderful wild animals that surround the area.

She tells the incredible story of how her dog, Steve Mason, saved his entire pack from one of the most vicious predators in the last frontier.

It was a spring morning when Hannah, Mason and their three younger dogs went for a quick hike around their property. They didn’t venture far off…it was supposed to be a routine hike.

About a mile away from home, Hannah noticed a wolf stalking them. Keep in mind, wolves are typically shy and don’t ever confront humans, especially one with four dogs.

Careful as to not challenge the wild animal, Hannah turned around and headed home, giving the wolf plenty of opportunities to retreat.

But as soon as her smallest dog barked, she quickly turned around – only to find the massive wolf within striking distance. For the next 20 minutes, the dogs and Hannah frantically fought alongside trying to deter the wolf.

When the wolf finally pinned down their smallest dog, Mason transformed into the super-hero dog that he was. He lunged in and knocked the wolf off the dog. But in a split second, the wolf got to Mason’s throat and it was already over. 

Suddenly my frail old man looked huge, bigger than I’d ever seen him before.

– Hannah (Mason’s Owner)

The starved wolf was already eating Mason, giving Hannah and the dogs time to get away. It took every muscle in her to restrain from going after the wolf. However, she didn’t want Mason’s sacrifice to be in vain.

In the face of a life and death situation, Mason took it upon himself to protect the ones that he cared for so much. He was the hero of the day, but made the ultimate sacrifice in doing so.

10. German Shepherd goes back into a burning home to save the last family member.

Tyonia Barbara was the resident of her home in Whiteford Maryland, where she only lived with her daughter and a white German Shepherd named Charlie. Though one afternoon, she was awakened from her nap by Charlie tugging away at her feet. 

Smoke started to creep into the room from a blazing fire! As soon as Tyonia opened the door, the room was flooded with smoke, making it extremely difficult to see.

Luckily, Charlie was in front of her the whole time guiding her to the front door.

As soon as they made it out to the front yard, Charlie knew Tyonia was safe and rushed back into the burning home to rescue Tyonia’s 20-year old daughter.

The thing was, her daughter wasn’t in the home at the time. However, Charlie didn’t know that and didn’t want to take any chances.

No matter how much Tyonia screamed for Charlie to come back, the loyal canine was set on his mission. No pack members left behind.

By the time the firefighters could clear out the fire and get into the house, Charlie was gone. They found him curled up on the daughter’s bed without a pulse. He didn’t get burned, but he eventually passed due to the smoke.

German Shepherds are known for both bravery and loyalty. Charlie was a prime example of just that – a heroic dog who wouldn’t think twice about running into a burning building to save his family members.


Dogs are a man’s best friend for a reason. They’re the loyal and loving companions that never leave your side and always have your back. 

When the situation calls for it, you can count on them to jump into action. So, which story moved you the most? Let us know in the comments section below.

Make sure to share this article so that the whole world knows just how brave these dogs were in their final moments.

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About the author

Richard Jeng

Richard has been raising dogs his whole life, including a Poodle, Pomeranian, Corgi and Australian Shepherd. He's always working with animal shelters and dog rescues because of his passion for all dogs. Fun fact: his all time favorite breed is the German Shepherd. Read More.

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