One of the most memorable moments of my life occurred when I was about 10 years old. At that time, I walked about one mile each day to school – Woodlake Avenue Elementary School, located in the suburbs of Los Angeles, California. I just googled the school and sure enough, 40 years later, it’s still there.
One morning I was walking to school and was no more than a block away from home when suddenly, seemingly out of nowhere, I was startled to see a large, brown, and very angry dog running directly at me at full speed. I stopped in my tracks, terrified. The dog rushed at me with fuming growls, snarling teeth, and unmistakable hostility. There was absolutely nowhere for me to run or escape. No tree to climb, no shelter available. I was sure that I was about to be ripped to pieces.
When the dog was about ten feet from me, a second astonishing thing happened.
From the right, another dog, a different breed but just as big, appeared. This second dog also seemed to appear out of nowhere, and it instantly positioned itself between me and the attacking dog. The second dog snarled and barked at the first dog and did not allow it to harm me. The two dogs squared off, barking and growling at each other. Each time the first dog tried to lunge at me, the second one cut it off and sent the attacking animal backwards.
Perhaps 15 seconds passed as I watched in amazement, and relief. One dog was doing everything it could to save me from another. I gradually recovered from the shock of the situation and resumed my walk to school, at a quick pace, looking back over my shoulder to see what was happening. When the first dog attempted to follow me, the second one blocked its path. The two dogs continued to bark and snarl at each other, and soon their noises faded and they were both out of sight.
One remarkable fact about this incident is that I had never seen either dog before that day. And I never saw them again afterward. Where in the world had they come from? And where did they go?
A skeptic might say that the second dog was not protecting me. Perhaps I just happened to get caught in the middle of a showdown between the two canine superpowers in the neighborhood.
I’m certain this isn’t the case. I am absolutely sure that the first dog was directing its anger at me, and me alone. It had made a bee-line toward me, it made clear eye contact with me, and it’s intention was to do harm to me. And I am equally certain that the second dog’s sudden intervention surprised the first dog as much as it surprised me. That big beautiful second dog simply would not allow the first animal to hurt me. There is no doubt in my mind that second animal arrived on the scene to protect me.
There is one intuitive gut feeling about this incident that I must also share. And I must confess that while this is a leap of inference from the facts that I have just described, it is a powerful feeling that I can’t dismiss. As I stood there, amazed that a second dog had arrived to thwart the attack, I could sense an amazing presence of love and goodness in that second dog. It was doing everything in its power to save me and protect me. I sensed pure selfless love.
I felt, and still feel, overwhelming gratitude toward this altruistic animal.
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For the past three years, I’ve had Google send me every online story it can find involving a hero saving someone’s life. Every day I get stories from all over the world. The vast majority are stories of humans saving humans. But several times each month, there is a story about a dog saving a human life. A dog who barks in the night to wake her owner because of smoke in the house. A dog who drags another injured dog off of busy highway. A dog who alerts someone when his owner falls unconscious.
Yes, there are cat hero stories, too, but they are far fewer in number. Dogs seem to be hardwired to love and protect people, and there are numerous stories of dogs saving people. Some of them are amazing and quite moving. You can read some of these stories here, and other ones here.
Do you have a story about someone who has saved you? I’d love to hear about it. It doesn’t matter to me if the creature saving you was a human being, an animal, a god, or a martian. I’m interested.
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You can contact Scott Allison at firstname.lastname@example.org.