My personal Hall of Heroes accepted three new members over the weekend and I am delighted to announce each is a dog. As one who has loved at least one constant companion for every day I can remember, I can think of nothing worse than not having a dog beside me and the news that pro football quarterback Michael Vick, who once so notoriously fought dogs that he spent two years in federal prison, just got his children a dog absolutely thrills me.
Yes, what Vick did to pit bulls was heinous but let’s remember that he’s paid his dues to society, that he still is very active as an earnest advocate for animals, and that his children, who innocently cried when TV tapes showed their daddy being escorted to prison, should not be denied the delight of learning the love and forgiveness that only a dog can give.
Somebody once said a child needs only two things, “A dog, and a mother who will let him have one.” As a small child, my first-ever chore was to freshen our dogs’ water each day. Water doesn’t get stale but I was taught “the dogs know you do it,” so a lifelong devotion is why I keep up with dogs that are heroes.
Today’s first inductee is a black Labrador named Robbie that has just come to light in an amateurish video that has gone viral on the Internet. While no one is quite certain, the video is believed to have been taken somewhere in the United States and it shows two rather nervous brown dogs in a canoe that is moving down a swift-moving creek.
Suddenly a voice yells, “Get in!” and you see Robbie swimming powerfully through the current towards the barking dogs in the canoe. The Lab grabs a line attached to the bow and then, with shouts of unseen encouragement, the Lab pulls the stranded dogs to water so shallow the stranded animals leap ashore and all is well. What a great animal!
Our second inductee – with the fitting name of Kabang -- is today a visitor to the United States from the Philippines. Not long ago the medium-sized mixed breed saw a speeding motorcycle come flying towards his owner’s young daughter and the man’s niece. Kabang threw his body in a way that knocked the little girls out of harm’s way but seriously injured the dog’s snout.
Word of the dog’s bravery reached animal activists in America after Pilipino veterinarians realized they were unable to treat the injured dog. A relief effort was quickly formed and it is thrilling to announce Kabang is now at the California-Davis veterinary hospital, which has the most advanced oral and dental facilities for animals anywhere in the world.
The Cal-Davis surgeons, who evaluated Kabang over the weekend, are confident they can give our hero a new face and believe the dog will return to the girls in the Philippines whose lives the dog saved.
Third, but certainly not least, is a golden retriever named Baxter. On Sept. 26, Baxter was on a twin leash with his brother Bailey when, in the way exuberant dogs sometimes do, they got loose in Sandwich, Mass. The owner looked everywhere, posted notices and called police. Two long weeks later, Penny Blackwell got a call and was told one of her dogs had been found.
When she saw Baxter, she squealed and laughed with delight but, as soon as she attached the leash, Baxter immediately began to pull and tug, furiously on a mission. The wise owner realized the dog had a purpose and she held the leash tightly as the dog entered some nearby woods. Through the bushes they went, the underbrush so thick she heard her other dog bark before she spotted Baxter’s brother, Bailey.
She found the other golden Lab wearing the leash she had put on the animal two weeks earlier and it was tightly wrapped around a bush that had held the dog captive for two weeks. Today both dogs are alive and well but only because Baxter saved his brother’s life.
Please join me in welcoming Robbie, Kabang and Baxter into my personal Hall of Fame. As a gentleman named Roger Caras once noted, “Dogs are not our whole life, but they make our lives whole.”
Kabang is due to get a new face