Get ready to say goodbye to 2011 and welcome 2012.  What will 2012 hold for us?  It’s going to be quite a year if a fraction of the speculation comes true.  The great Polar Shift.  Planet Nibiru Collission with Earth.  Comet Elenin crashing to Earth (oh wait…it already crashed into the Sun).  And, of course, the cataclysmic or transformative events that will occur on December 21, 2012 according to the Mayan calendar.

But before the aliens drop in on us and either usher us into the Age of Aquarius, or freeze us for their next big banquet, lets take a look at some remarkable and notable dogs for 2011.  Again, it was hard to choose from the all the best that is out there.

Heroes

Scooby

If you’re going to chase after teenage girls with less than honorable intentions, don’t do it in the Logan Square neighborhood of Chicago.  Lest you want to find yourself cornered and shaking in fear after the local 160 pound Great Dane catches up to you and stares you down.  That’s what happened earlier this year to some creep who tried to sexually assault a 14-year-old girl.

The girl had gotten off the bus and while she was walking home she noticed a man following her. When she got to the gate in front of her home, the man grabbed her, threw her to the ground and tried assaulting her.  Her screams caught the attention of Scooby and his owner.  They chased the guy down into an alley where he came face to face with Scooby, and his only option was to – surrender.  Scooby held him there until the police showed up.  The perp was promptly arrested, and the damsel in distress was fortunately unharmed.

Scooby is normally a gentle giant, but if you mess around in his neighborhood, you’ll be glad when the police arrive to arrest you.   I bet he got a pat on the head and a Scooby Snack.  Heck, I bet he got lots of fat, juicy steaks to snack on.

GOOD BOY!!!

Hercules

In six hours, this Saint Bernard went from being a Death Row Dog to a crime-fighting hero.

Found by hikers on Halloween, this dog was taken to the local shelter in a sad state.  Malnourished, dehydrated, and carrying injuries consistent with being attacked by other dogs or coyotes.   Hercules recovered at the shelter but being deemed unadoptable due to his size, and the cost of caring for him, he was put on the Euth List.  Just before walking the Green Mile, a Hillsboro, Ohio family pulled him from the shelter.

While being introduced to the home, Hercules became agitated and discovered an intruder in the basement.  The potential home-invader had already cut the telephone and cable lines and was preparing to rob the family.   Scary!  This was not your usual smash and grab break-in.

Hercules pulled from his new owner’s grip on his collar and chased the burglar down, biting his ankle and dragging him to the ground as he attempted to escape over a six-foot fence.  The burglar got away, but not without a bite marks to cement the ordeal.

Hercules was not going to a permanent home that day.  He was only pulled to save him from being euthanized, with the intention being fostered until a forever home was found.  After that bit of heroism, Hercules’ foster home turned into his forever home.

GOOD BOY!!!

Reagan

Not only are dogs man’s best friend, they can be cats best friends too.  Especially with a dog named Reagan.

Two cats are alive today only because this caring dog heard their cries from inside a bag that was dumped in the middle of a road in Madison, Iowa.   A litter of kittens were cruelly thrown in an old Meow Mix bag, tossed onto a road, and run over by a car.  Reagan arrived just in time to rescue two kittens that were still alive in the bag before another car came along.  He dragged the bag home whined until his owner opened the bag.   It was quite a gruesome find when his owner looked into the bag.  But Tipper and Skipper, the remaining kittens, were alive and traumatized.

They were taken care of, bottle fed, and after recovering, put up for adoption.

Reagan thought of nothing but getting the kitties to safety.  Reagan proves that in this world of warped people, animals shine through.

GOOD BOY!!!

Diamond

Appropriately named, Diamond is a gem of a dog.  A gem every family should have.

This past May Diamond received the Hero Dog Award by The Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Los Angeles presented at their 29th Annual National Hero Dog award.

Last October, Diamond woke his family from a sound sleep when their apartment caught fire.  Diamond’s owner, Darryl Steen, grabbed his 9-year-old daughter and dropped her to safety out of a second story window, but he couldn’t find his 16-year-old daughter who was hiding under a mattress in her father’s room.  Smoke and fire kept Dad from reaching his daughter.  But Diamond found her.

Firefighters spotted Diamond on the mattress shielding the girl from the smoke and fire.

Dad and daughter were hospitalized for weeks with burns, and had to have skin grafts. Diamond spent six weeks at a pet hospital, being treated for burns and smoke inhalation.

GOOD BOY!!!

But this heroism was clouded by breed discrimination.  Homeless, the family had a tough time finding temporary housing because Diamond is a pit bull.   Landlords have refused them housing, even the ones that claim to be pet friendly.  All because Diamond is a pit bull.   The Steen family refuses to give him up.  They are staying with family and Diamond is staying with friends.  Hopefully by now, the family has been reunited in a new place – Dad, daughters, and Diamond.

When is the world going to get a clue.

Survivors

Wall-E

Every so often, a shelter animal beats the odds.  Not by getting adopted, but by surviving euthanasia.  Those are big odds.

Wall-E was one of 5 puppies that were abandoned outside an animal shelter in Sulphur, Oklahoma.  Suffering from under-funding and overcrowding, the shelter made the regrettable decision to put them all to sleep.  They were given injections in the limbs and heart, tested with a stethoscope to check they were dead, and their bodies put out for disposal.

But the following morning something astonishing happened. An animal control officer who inspected the bin found that one of the puppies had apparently come back to life and was jumping around the container, tail wildly wagging.

Seeing that some deity must be watching over the little pup, the shelter decided not to make another attempt at euthanasia.  Wall-E was taken by one of their veterinary technicians and put up for adoption.

The shelter received hundreds of calls from families wanting to adopt the pup.  Wall-E finally found a forever home in Philadelphia with a family that already had another rescued dog.

Wall-E’s story has a message.  Not all shelter animals beat the odds of being killed because they are homeless.  Most of them never even get that close.  There are hundreds of adoptable animals out there.  Please adopt your next best friend from a shelter.  Or consider opening your home to foster.  There are many pets just like him that are still waiting.

Daniel

And here we have another dog blessed by the Gods.  Another dog that cheated death by being killed in a shelter.  Not by lethal injection, but by a gas chamber.

In October, the 20-pound beagle Daniel was found as a stray and sent to an overcrowded animal shelter in Florence, Alabama. He was scheduled to be euthanized with 18 other dogs, but somehow survived death without even getting sick.

It’s speculated that Daniel may have found an air pocket in the chamber for the weight of gas is heavier than air, but that’s a one in a million chance.

Again, another miracle dog that got hundreds of people wanting to adopt him.  Daniel finally found his forever home with a family in New Jersey that already had 4 dogs.  He was flown to NJ by 11th Hour Rescue with the help of Pilots and Paws.

At least 15 states have banned carbon monoxide for euthanising shelter animals, but it is still a method used in many parts of the country.  Other states are moving towards banning the gas chamber, but not fast enough.

Michelle

She should have been dead from the force a speeding race car had when it hit her.  And she was taken for dead when a policeman dragged her body and unceremoniously dumped her behind some garbage cans.  But a woman who belongs to the Bulgarian team of Let’s Adopt decided to check for herself.  So she and others on the team drove several hours to where the rally was held.

And found Michelle.

At the bottom of a ravine, with double fractures in both hind legs, a broken pelvis, and she had spontaneously aborted her unborn pups.

If this was the case in the USA, Michelle would have been released from her injuries by what is commonly called “humane euthanasia”.  Let’s Adopt didn’t release her.  They took her to a clinic and made the decision to fix her up at whatever it takes.

It took months of multiple operations and thousands in donations.  Michelle must have known that because she pressed forward with a will to live, and got up and walked.   After a short while she was flown to Germany to finish her rehabilitation.

Today Michelle is in her forever home in Belgium.

Patrick

Most likely the world’s most famous survivor.

He was starved and stuffed into a trash bag, then shoved down a garbage chute in a Newark, N.J. apartment building this past March.  The building superintendent noticed a slight movement in a plastic bag, and when he opened it up, there was the emaciated dog, barely alive.  The dog was found so emaciated his bones protruded from his skin and he had no body temperature.  It is the worst case of animal abuse most have ever seen.

Newark Animal Control rushed the dog to the 24-hour Garden State Veterinary Specialists in Tinton Falls, N.J., where he was given blood transfusions, pumped with fluids and covered with heating blankets.  He wasn’t even expected to survive the night.  And he remained in guarded condition for months.

Patrick has a facebook page, The Patrick Miracle, that has over 120 thousand members.  He is currently in a foster home getting used to all the conveniences of today’s pampered pooches.  Treats, walks, play, good food, bedtime in his people’s beds, and very likely – squeaky toys!!!

But everyone wanted a piece of Patrick.  Facebook groups fought with one another over the right to use the term “Patrick’s Law”, referring to a movement to put in place tougher animal abuse legislation.  The Associated Humane Society, the group that first received Patrick in his distressed state, put copyright on all their photos in hopes to combat uncontrolled profiteering on his image, and sued the Garden State Veterinary Specialists Animal Hospital for custody of Patrick.

All those “meltdowns” aside, Patrick has recovered from a shell of a dog to a healthy 50 pounds of pure puppy love.

His twisted former owner was indicted by the Grand Jury on two fourth degree criminal charges including animal torment and torture.  Her trial is scheduled for January 20, 2012.

Departed

Leo

Leo, a Vicktory Dog (one of the Pit Bulls from Michael Vick’s “Bad Newz Kennelz) passed away the week of December 18th from a seizure disorder.

Leo worked with cancer patients as a therapy dog.  He visited cancer patients weekly revealing a playful, loveable dog, and bit of a clown.  After Bad Newz Kennels, Leo went on and passed his Canine Good Citizen test as well as the Therapy Dogs International test. He even won an achievement award for his work from the Animal Farm Foundation.

Vicktory Dogs are the dogs who overcame horrific beginnings to become loving companions and some became therapy dogs.  Being one of Michael Vick’s dogs from his Bad Newz Kennelz – his dogfighting racket – many of these dogs were suffering from serious psychological and emotional trauma.  Their “vicktory” was overcoming the trauma and learn how to play, to relax, and to love.

Roselle

She was also a hero.

She was awarded as the top American Hero Dog for 2011 by the American Humane Association, and in 2002, won the United Kingdom Dickin Medal for her bravery.

This honor was bestowed posthumously for Roselle died on June 26 of this year. She was the dog who guided her blind owner down 78 flights of stairs at the World Trade Center on September 11, 2001.   On that day, Michael Hingson and his guide dog, Roselle, worked in the World Trade Center on the 78th floor of Tower One.  They were both in the office when American Airlines flight 11 crashed into the other side of the building 18 floors above them.   Roselle did not panic; she remained focused on guiding Hingson down 78 floors to the ground.   She was also a calming presence for others trying to descend to safety.  Once on the ground, through the smoke and dust, Roselle guided Hingson to a subway entrance and even waited for the command to descend the stairs.

She was also a good friend just doing her job.  Remaining loyal at the side of her owner.

Charlie

Another 9/11 hero.  Charlie, a former member of the NYPD K-9 Unit who scoured the rubble at Ground Zero after the World Trade Center attacks, died in January natural causes, just short of his 13th birthday.

Charlie was 13 months old and untrained when he arrived from the Czech Republic to join the NYPD K-9 unit.   After training, Charlie patrolled the five boroughs in eight-hour shifts. As a patrol dog, he was trained to detect human scent, and on any given day could go from hunting a felon to searching for a lost child.

He was just a year into his job when the 9/11 World Trade Center disaster happened.  Charlie was quickly cross-trained into Search and Rescue to work the wreckage at Ground Zero.

Charlie worked until age 7, when his handler requested the department retire him.  He remained with his handler in her home during his retirement until he peacefully passed on.

Nala

She didn’t scale 20 feet wreckage at Ground Zero.  She didn’t bring a burglar to ground, or keep a sex offender at bay.  She also didn’t save her family from a devastating fire.

Nala died after being hit by a car near the Atlanta airport at the beginning of 2011.  She escaped her crate being transferred between flights from California to Germany on Delta Airlines in December 2010.

When her story hit The Consumerist, many offered to help search for her.  There were volunteers in Atlanta walking the area with her owner, Alisa Miller.  Many followed this blog for updates.  It was a crushing blow when her body was found along a stretch of highway near the airport.  And here it is a year later, and that pain I had when I got the email Nala was dead still hurts.

Nala was a loved family member.  A dog doesn’t need to be any greater than that.  It’s wonderful we have hero dogs and dogs defying the worst man can dish out.  But all they ever want, or are contented to have, is a home.

That is what all dogs want.  They want the comfort of their people.  The warmth of a home with a bed, good food, quiet time with pets and hugs, trips to the park, playtime, and squeaky toys!!!

Celebrate your dog!  Love your animals – your bestest friends!  Shower them with all the love your heart can give.  When you love an animal, it awakens the best you have.

They will be our friends for always and always and always. – Rudyard Kipling

For Boog.

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