Francis Kaye brings us a selection of stories about animals who have gone above and beyond the call of duty in protecting their owners
Many readers will be well aware of the companionship a pet can give, whether it be a dog, a cat, a pony or some other creature. They don’t judge us and they give us unconditional love, regardless of what others may think of us.
Some pets however, have gone a step further and have saved their owners from injury and even death.
Jessica Cowley, a 28-year-old blind mother, was strolling near her home in Leigh, Lancashire, in September 2013. She was pushing her one-year-old son, Jacob, in his pram and they were accompanied by her guide-dog, Jet, a black Labrador who had been with the family for five years.
As they began to cross the entrance to a car park, Jessica suddenly heard the screech of car-brakes. Jet leapt out of her hands seconds before the vehicle hit her from behind, sending her crashing to the ground. The sound of her baby crying was the only way she knew that Jacob was alive.
A local vet, who witnessed the incident, later told her that Jet had saved Jacob’s life. Just as the car was about to hit mother and pram, the powerful dog had broken free of her owner pushed the pram out of the path of the car.
“She was worried about me but once she had licked my face and checked I was conscious, she was fine,” Jessica said later.
Although Jacob fell out of the pram, his only injury was a cut lip.
Jet had not been trained as a rescue animal, but she instinctively rushed to protect Jacob, with no thought for her own safety.
“She loves Jacob and thinks of him as her own,” said Jessica. “I am very proud of her.”
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A little Thai Bangkaew dog named Pui, from Ayutthaya, a rural community north of Bangkok, Thailand, spends most of his time rummaging for tasty scraps in the local rubbish dump.
But in June 2013, he discovered an abandoned newborn baby in a plastic bag in the dump. The dog gently picked up the bag and carefully carried the baby home to his owner, Gumnerd Thongmak.
Once home, Pui began barking but everybody ignored him, as often happens when dogs bark. But Pui continued barking until Sudarat Thongmak, age 12, came out to the patio to see what all the fuss was about.
The fuss was a newborn baby girl, still alive, with her umbilical cord still attached. The girl rushed to get her parents, who rushed the baby to the hospital, where she was given oxygen and treated.
She weighed just 4 pounds, 8 ounces. Her condition was stabilised and she recovered after being transferred to a larger hospital.
As for Pui, he’s been duly feted. The district’s Red Cross chapter issued Pui a medal and a new leather collar. It also presented him with a certificate praising Pui’s ‘well-raised’ and ‘courageous’ manner. And the ‘Miracle of Life Foundation’ in the district gave the family money to help feed their three dogs. Pui remains a local hero.
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Can animals detect disease? Wendy Humphries, 52, a mother of two from Wroughton, Wiltshire in England believes her cat’s ‘sixth sense’ saved her life. She was spurred to seek medical attention when ten-month-old Fidge, began jumping on her right breast every night as she lay on the sofa.
“She would jump onto it every night for a fortnight. I went to see my GP because I thought it was bruised,” says Wendy.
The doctor found a pea-sized lump in the right breast. It turned out to be cancerous and doctors told her that it could have been fatal if it hadn’t been detected so early on.
“I am the first one in my family to have breast cancer. I am so glad I got her. I couldn’t believe it. She saved my life, no doubt about that,” says Wendy.