Animatch Blog

When our pets save us

written by Judie Amyot, The Suburban


In the past 10 to 15 years, many newly formed animal rescue organizations have taken their place alongside the well established SPCA in helping abandoned animals find new homes. All too often, unwanted pets are given up or turfed out into the streets for various reasons — some understandable, others cold and callous. Sadly, there isn’t always a happy ending for all these animals but the hard work and dedication of the rescues is paying off with more animals being rehomed than ever before. These animals have no voice, they are helpless and we are saving them.

Animal lovers know and will tell you that their pets are more than just four paws and a tail. We knew long before they were declared sentient beings that our pets have souls and instincts we may never fully comprehend. We also know that our pets, in turn, save us in so many different ways that they are often more loyal and devoted than some of our human friends. Going beyond the fact that pets lift us up when we’re depressed, soothe us when we are healing and add joy and purpose to our lives, there are animals — dogs in particular — that are trained to rescue humans in dire situations not to mention preventing catastrophes such as we see at airports. Some of the breeds with a special penchant for search and rescue are:

  • Labrador Retriever: These dogs not only excel in search and rescue tasks but their kind disposition makes them perfect guide dogs.
  • German Shepherd: With its history of heroism, this breed is known for its search and rescue talents.
  • Boxer: With an athletic build, boxers are fast learners and enjoy obedience and agility drills, all of which make them excellent search and rescue dogs.
  • Doberman Pinscher: A German tax collector, Louis Dobermann, bred the Doberman Pinscher to be highly intelligent and protective of loved ones.
  • Weimaraner: These dogs are incredibly smart and have a keen sense of smell which equips them with all they need to save lives.
  • Collie: TV’s beloved Lassie was a collie and her acts of bravery were not merely invented for TV. Collies are protective, loyal and serve as excellent guardians.
  • Border Collie: This intelligent breed is employed for many purposes including herding and search and rescue.
  • Bloodhound: This breed’s nose can save the day as its ability to search and rescue is so reliable that the evidence it uncovers can be used as evidence in court.
  • Saint Bernard: This is the original avalanche rescue dog. Though difficult to train, it is often called upon to save lives.
  • Alaskan Malamute: Bred for power and endurance, these dogs excel in sledding and pulling and because they can withstand extreme temperatures, they are phenomenal search and rescue dogs.
  • Jack Russell Terrier: These dogs are so full of energy and mischief that it’s surprising to learn they can excel at search and rescue with the right training.
  • German Pinscher: This breed is confident, courageous and fearless, making it a perfect candidate for search and rescue teams.
  • Belgian Tervuren: Due to its skills in scent detection and search and rescue, police employ this easy to train breed to help conduct work in law enforcement.
  • Cane Corso: These are gentle giants that are eager to learn but when faced with a threat, will rise to the occasion and act fearlessly.

Most dog breeds have a protective streak and will come to our aid if we are threatened. On the other hand, some will roll over for a belly rub as a burglar rifles through your home, so when choosing a breed of dog, decide first what your main objective is in getting a canine companion. Whether they are therapy dogs by our bedside in the hospital, rescue dogs digging us out of an avalanche, service dogs for those with special needs or simply warm bodies cuddling with us on the sofa, our pets often give back to us more than we give to them. Let’s appreciate how lucky we are.

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