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Anime and Manga
- Most of the main characters of the anime Ginga: Nagareboshi Gin are Heroic Dogs, who band together to fight an evil bear who kills humans and threatens to take over the local mountains.
- In Excel Saga Menchi usually acts as the emergency food supply, but in episodes that spotlight her she plays the hero.
- Parodied in Azumanga Daioh, when Osaka is worried Chiyo will be kidnapped if she goes to America. Chiyo claims Mr. Tadakichi will protect her. Osaka's response: "BANG! Mr. Tadakichi has just been shot."
- Tobimaru from Sword of the Stranger is played straight, protecting the main protagonist from poisoned knives and very nearly giving his life in the process.
- Black Hayate from Fullmetal Alchemist saves Riza from a homunculus in the manga.
- Akamaru, Kiba Inuzuka's canine partner from Naruto is known for protecting cats and kids all around Konoha from mean dogs, often as Kiba translates: 'Pick on someone your own size!'
- Zeke of Highschool of the Dead may not be the biggest dog, but he is fiercely loyal to Alice, even on their first encounter, he tries to protect her. Later, When Alice laments she has no weapons, Hirano points out that Zeke is her weapon. Also, Any Dog that survives the Zombie apocalypse has badass pumping through his veins.
- Densuke from Dennou Coil plays a major role in the series, especially when he goes down fighting Nulls to protect Yasako. Can you resist his cuteness anyways?
- Doogee from The Tibetan Dog is a Tibetan Mastiff who is tracking a giant beast that killed his owner, to which he succeeds in the end, being mortally wounded in the fight and then using his last powers to save his new owner from an avalanche.
- Chou Chou from Les Misérables: Shōjo Cosette has his moments. He hepled Cosette and Gavroche when they were children, was a helpful figure to Gavroche's "brothers" and, specially, he saved Gavroche in the barricades.
- Snowy, from the Tintin comics is always there for his owner, no matter the threat level, once wishing to die by his grave and he is pretty smart too.
- Astérix: Dogmatix is as heroic as his owners and in at least one story he pretty much saved the day by finding the lost potion.
- Lucky Luke: Ratanplan is a complete subversion of this trope in all but intentions, usually causing more harm than good and being The Load even in.., ahem especially in video games.
- Examples from The DCU:
Max Lord: "We talked about this! Don't clone the dog! Dogs are weird! The whole loyalty thing just seems to be branded right in on a genetic level, for Pete's sake!"
- Although rarely the focus of the story, Krypto the Superdog and Ace the Bat-Hound are essentially Canine Counterparts to Superman and Batman, respectively, and even wear little dog-styled costumes similar to their masters'!
- Rex The Wonder Dog is a boat-driving, skydiving, cattle-roping, dinosaur-fighting, skiing, fishing, decorated World War II veteran/investigative reporter Gary Stu as a dog. He probably knows more skills than Batman and Mr. Terrific combined. He gained the ability to talk and joined an association of magical beings - after doing all of the above.
- In 1948, the Golden Age Green Lantern got a canine sidekick named Streak the Wonder Dog, who became so popular that he ended up taking over the book from GL. Streak is generally regarded as the prototype for the later Rex the Wonder Dog.
- Power Girl sees Krypto being cloned by Professer Ivo as a series of evil clones. It doesn't go the way he expected. Apparently, Max Lord gave Professor Ivo very strict instructions not to clone him.
- Uncle Sam, the Canine Companion to the protagonist of the World War I serial "Golden Eyes" And Her Hero "Bill". Three installments into the serial he sniffs out a German spy - and that's before he and Golden Eyes have enlisted! Once the two of them make it to France and join the Red Cross, Uncle Sam proceeds to knock out an enemy officer, assist with the transport of captured German intelligence papers, lead American troops to the location where Golden Eyes is being held captive, and work to find wounded soldiers after battles.
- In Schippeitaro, the cat spirits fear the title dog. The young man triumphs over them by borrowing it.
- Lassie the heroic collie, star of multiple films and three television series. She's even in a famous 1943 group photograph of nearly all of MGM's contracted actors, sitting left front center right next to Louis B. Meyer himself. Lassie would come to most people's minds as the Ur-Example of heroic dogs on film, except that's actually...
- Rin Tin Tin, a German Shepherd who starred in several films for Warner Bros in the 1920s and '30s, as well as later spinoffs, including two television series. He even appeared in multiple radio series, where he provided his own sound effects. The real Rin Tin Tin has had several descendants, with the current one being the tenth. Quite a career for a dog.
- The surviving dog, Beast, from The Hills Have Eyes (2006) not only manages to be more useful in the survival situation than any of the normal humans, but actually manages to rack up a higher body count than any other single living creature in the entire movie.
- Of course, German Shepherds are pretty renowned for being great guard dogs. And thousands of years of evolution hasn't come close to undoing the instincts they got from wolves. If you put a confident, powerful, and intelligent dog in a situation where his human family is unable to defend themselves, he's going to revert to Papa Wolf mode and kill some bastards.
- He also had his packmate, Beauty, to avenge. Dogs do hold grudges over things like that.
- When the Frog brothers were cornered by a vampire in The Lost Boys, it was Nanook the Alaskan malamute (also an Evil-Detecting Dog) who jumped up at it and pushed it into the bathtub where the brothers' holy water supply was stored. (All the more impressive, in that Nanook may well have figured out that this would work, having just seen the brothers splash the vampire with water from the tub and burn its face!) Nanook also bravely guarded Sam from Michael when the latter became a half-vampire and was nearly overcome by Horror Hunger.
- Thor, the German shepherd hero of the movie Bad Moon (and the book it was based on, Thor by Wayne Smith), fights a werewolf to protect his family.
- Airplane II: The Sequel: A boy and his family bring their dog, Scraps, along on the Lunar Shuttle. Naturally, when everything goes to hell and it's revealed that one of the passengers is carrying a bomb, the dog is the one who catches it before it can hit the floor.
- Baxter from Anchorman: The Legend of Ron Burgundy.
- In Homeward Bound: The Incredible Journey, when Shadow (Golden Retriever) and Chance (Bulldog) take care of a lost little girl in the woods and help her family/search party locate her; not to mention fighting and outsmarting A PUMA!!!
- Double-subverted with Bolt, who plays a superhero in the in-universe Show Within a Show and thinks it's all real. Even after learning the truth, he saves his owner's life by barking into an air vent from inside a burning building such that firefighters can hear them.
- In The Artist, George Valentin's dog alerts a police officer when he sets his house on fire and is unable—or unwilling—to escape. The officer outright states that George owes his life to the dog. Later, as George prepares to kill himself, the dog apparently senses his intent and barks ferociously to dissuade him.
- Zip in Last Of The Dogmen leads horses by a rope in order to pull two humans to safety.
- While his precise amount of heroism is open to question, Milo in The Mask does help his master out of some tight spots.
- The titular dog from Bingo displays both human level intelligence and intense bravery as he manages to rescue a boy from a bear, rescue hostages AND call the police (seriously, the dog dials the phone), and saves the first boy's family from a suitcase bomb, barely managing to survive the blast himself. As he lays in an emergency room after the bomb, everyone he helped throughout the movie comes to visit him, filling up the entire room.
- Benji, one of the smaller examples of this trope, regularly brought help and comfort to people and animals in trouble. Also something of a Real Life savior for fellow-canines, as his film appearances helped improve the image of mixed-breed dogs: their adoption rates at animal shelters shot upwards after his character became popular in the 1970s.
- Dog, from the John Wayne western Big Jake, somehow able to figure out what Jacob McCandles wants him to do just from hearing his name called.
"when criminals in this world appearand break the laws that they should fearand frighten all who see or hearthe cry goes up both far and near/for Underdog! Underdog! Underdog! Underdog!"
- Several of Bailey's incarnations in A Dog's Purpose. As Bailey himself, he saves his owner Ethan and his mother during a house fire. For added benefit, he catches the punk who caused it. Then, as Ellie, a police dog, he rescues a drowning girl and saves his handler's life—at the cost of his own.
- Rex, the bomb-sniffing dog from the film Megan Leavey. In one scene, he actually jumps up to pull a soldier down to the ground, taking him out of the line of fire. Plus all the other dogs like him, even if their role isn't as prominent.
- To an extent, Buck, from Jack London's The Call of the Wild, and the half-wolf protagonist of White Fang. They do certain heroic things, and we are given insight into their thoughts, but they don't fit the trope exactly.
- In Dan Abnett's Warhammer 40,000 Brothers of the Snake, the Space Marine Priad calms some Angry Guard Dogs and takes one with him to fight Dark Eldar. Years later, he dreams of it when the fight is showing its great significiance, and another Space Marine sends it to him as a psychopomp so he talk with him while they sleep. Even more oddly, when he arrives back on the planet, he is told the dog died years ago, but a dog exactly like it appears to help against the Dark Eldar again.
- Huan from The Silmarillion is (most likely) a very minor deity in canine form, but he acts like an unusually intelligent dog for the bulk of the story. He is a brave and loyal companion to Beren and Lúthien, and occasionally The Mentor (he can speak only three times before he dies). Oh, and there's one other thing... he defeated Sauron in single combat. Yes, that Sauron. He is prophesied to only die after fighting the greatest wolf to have ever lived. He ends up performing a Mutual Kill on Carcharoth, a huge werewolf raised specially to kill him.
- Harry Dresden's dog Mouse, who over the course of the series repeatedly saves Harry's (and others) life, is a proximity detector for evil beings and powers, has the ability to wake an entire building all at once and get them to leave in an orderly manner when the building is set on fire, and mercilessly tears apart any evil being he gets ahold of. It is strongly implied that Mouse is far more intelligent than he usually acts. His presence also greatly intimidated a millenia old sorcerer powered by a Fallen Angel (the first time the usually inflappable Nicodemus seemed afraid of anything). Did we mention that he made Leanansidhe flinch by calling her bluff? He is also extremely loyal and friendly. It helps that Mouse is descended from a guardian dog spirit.
- Gaspode the Wonder Dog in Discworld, especially Moving Pictures. He's a bit of a subversion, a scruffy mongrel who hates his doggy instincts and seriously resents having to save the day. He can talk, but hardly anyone believes him. Moving Pictures also has Laddie, who looks like a Heroic Dog, but is very, very, stupid. He does however, rescue Gaspode from his Heroic Sacrifice.
- Wuffles, Lord Vetinari's old terrier, actually manages some heroism in The Truth. He bites Pin and Tulip, gets away, and tells the story of what happened to William de Worde so that he knows Lord Vetinari is innocent. Plucky Dog Puts Bite On Villains.
- Dog, the dog in Two Caravans, spends much of the novel acting as a simple tracking device, which is less heroic and more practical. However, when the dramatic finale comes around, he leaps in front of a gun to save one of the protagonists
- Old Dan and Little Ann, the protagonist's two hunting dogs in Where the Red Fern Grows die fighting off a mountain lion that was attacking their master.
- Hank of the Hank the Cowdog series, having sworn an oath "to protect and defend all innocent children against all manner of monsters and evil things." Even though he's quite often Lord Error-Prone, he's always on call when someone's in real trouble.
- The Tale of Gelert the dog, a Welsh fable, describes how Gelert saves the life of his master's son when a wolf enters their home. Sadly, when his master returns from a hunting trip he sees Gelert covered in the wolf's blood, assumes Gelert has mauled his son, and kills him, only to realise his mistake when he discovers the wolf's carcass. The Welsh town Beddgelert, Gelert's Grave, is named in his honor.
- The children's book Bad Dog Marley! (based off the Marley from Marley and Me) has the previously troublesome Marley saving the baby from danger—he's crawled on top of a cabinet and could have fallen were it not for Marley's catching him and alerting the family with his incessant barking.
- Pepper from The House on the Borderland. He helps his master fight off vicious monsters and later saves said master from falling into a chasm; later, however, he gets killed when the titular house ages his body billions of years in a single instant.
- Sergeant Chip, from the Bradley Denton short story of the same name. The term 'heroic' definitely fits a military dog who is a better soldier then some of the human ones in the story and is doing a very good job of obeying his handler's last orders to protect a group of civilians.
- Mundo Cani of The Book of the Dun Cow is easily the most heroic character in the book, especially when he unhesitatingly takes on a planet-sized demonic snake that is his world's equivalent of Satan and wins, although at the cost of his own life.
- Chet, the narrator of the Chet and Bernie detective series. His owner, Bernie, is a private detective who talks to his dog, using him as a sounding board, as he works out his cases. Chet is moral support, attacks on command, and, though he may not be much on deduction, sure can follow a scent trail.
- In the Rainbow Magic series, Rachel's dog Buttons has helped the girls at times.
- Journey to Chaos: One of the Dragon's Lair mercenaries is Jet, a black lap. He helps Eric find allies during a Rescue Arc.
- Toby, the ghost-sensitive dog from Rivers of London, steps out of his usual comic-relief role to defend a semiconscious Peter from Molly's Horror Hunger in the first novel. Even Peter is amazed by the little dog's nerve.
- Auspice fulfills this role in the canine cast of Barkwire.
- Genevieve from Madeline first appeared in Madeline's Rescue, after seeing Madeline fall into the river. She jumps in and saves the smallest girl from a watery grave. This was also put into the Live action movie and animated series.
Live Action TV
- Lassie, of course, who had a regular human sidekick in the form of Timmy.
- The Littlest Hobo is similar to Lassie, but London is perpetually Walking the Earth rather than tied down to one owner.
- Ditto for Boomer from Here's Boomer.
- An episode of Wishbone has Wishbone see a news story about a heroic dog who saves a child from being hit by a car. Wishbone fantasizes about being heroic himself (as in every episode).
- The Bundy men and Steve take the neighborhood kids camping. Of course things go south, so Al gives Buck a note to take to Peggy. As Al predicted, Buck braved the journey and made it home...but refused to give Peggy the note.
- Parodied in the SCTV sketch "Alice", which featured a "heroic" dog that just ... basically sat there. Everyone around Alice credited her with saving their lives, fending off burglars, etc., but ... she just sat there.
- Rex, in Inspector Rex, is a police dog who often does as much hard policing as the rest of his team put together.
- In M*A*S*H, the doctors treat a dog named Corporal Cupcake, who deliberately tripped a land mine to save his human partner.
- If Robot Dogs count, K-9's Heroic Sacrifice in the Doctor Who episode "School Reunion" certainly qualifies him.
- Max the Bionic Dog from The Bionic Woman.
- Parodied in the "Charlie the Wonderdog" sketches on the Australian comedy programme The Late Show.
- Bear, the Team Pet of Team Machine in Person of Interest, who believes himself to be this. (It's more like he acts as a distraction and mops up for Reese, but his heart's in the right place, and he's quite capable when surprising bad guys.
- Przygody Psa Cywila has the title character, Cywil, a police dog Too Clever By A Half.
- As if Trigger were not enough, Roy Rogers also had a heroic German Shepherd named Bullet.
- Snoopy, from myriad Peanuts TV specials, is convinced he's a heroic dog, at least when it comes to confronting the Red Baron. Real life, not so much.
- Dex, the bomb-sniffing dog in the NCIS episode "Seek". So much so that at the episode's conclusion, Gibbs declares with 100℅ respect and sincerity:
"That's not a dog. That's a Marine."
- The video for ''Save The World'' by Swedish House Mafia features dogs dealing with a mugger, a carjacker and an armed robber. It also appears that they've got organized about their heroics.
- One Rocket Age adventure features Timmy, a border collie belonging to Agatha Christie and Enyd Brighton, who can help the heroes get out of some serious scrapes. Characters can also have dogs as sidekicks.
- Valiant Hearts has Walt, the Doberman Pinscher who is invaluable to the human characters, helping them with puzzles, fetching medicine, and distracting enemy troops.
- Hewie from Haunting Ground is the embodiment of this trope. Without him, Fiona would not have a chance in hell of escaping as one bad ending demonstrates.
- Koromaru, from Persona 3, who fights interdimensional hellbeasts with the best of 'em.
- In Resident Evil 4, a dog comes and helps Leon fight a monster - if Leon frees him from a trap earlier in the game, that is. The dog is heavily hinted at to be Hewie from Haunting Ground.
- Blanca from Shadow Hearts: at some point, you start to wonder if Yuri is the hero or the dog's sidekick.
- Fable II: When Lucien has you trapped, a pistol aimed at you, and is about to pull the trigger, you dog leaps in front of you and takes the shot. The dog that has been with you since the beginning of the game. Of course, he shoots you right afterward, but it was pretty awesome and gives you extra motivation to kill the bastard.
- Boney of MOTHER 3. He's also Flint Norris's dog, and can phase through a speeding train.
- The Mabari hound party member of Dragon Age: Origins, popularly called Rabbit, Barkspawn or Dog.
- The hero's dog from Secret of Evermore.
- Dogmeat from Fallout, Fallout 2 and Fallout 3 if the player recruits him. He is almost always the only party member who will never leave you under any circumstances save death.
- His incarnation in Fallout 4 plays it even straighter: he's implied to have belonged to the (currently besieged) settlers in Concord and will attempt to lead the player back to them for a Big Damn Heroes moment.
- Rex in Fallout: New Vegas; a cybernetic dog with a... colorful history. He is also very old, practically a Time Abyss by dog standards, as he's a pre-War K9 police unit.
- Pokémon: While Growlithe is the most prominent example, every Pokemon based on a dog is this to some degree. Even Dark-Type ones like Houndour and Poochyena. Stoutland, the final evolution of Lilipup, is described in the 'dex as being highly skilled at rescuing people in snowstorms or lost at sea.
- The Pokémon Black 2 and White 2 trailer has a Team Plasma grunt order her Seviper to attack the trainers who are interrupting them, skipping the whole 'Pokemon battle' business and going straight to taking out the actual witnesses to their operation. Cue big badass fire-dog Arcanine to the rescue◊, who intercepts the snake and launches it into low orbit with a physics-defying aerial throw.
- Radium Dog from Defenders of Dynatron City.
- Missile from Ghost Trick. Follows his mistress into danger and dies, but when he's offered a chance to come back to life he refuses, because he's inherited ghost powers that allow him to protect his mistress better.
- Repede from Tales of Vesperia. He's able to handle a short sword and items extremely well for a dog, and goes up against foes both human and monster alike on a regular basis for the good of the world.
- Widdershins has Greenwich, Harriet "Harry" Barber's evil detecting right-hand dog, who we later find out was bred by Harry's younger brother Edward, who has made a career out of breeding and training evil-detecting dogs.
- Balto, both the animated version and the real dog he was based on.
- Underdog, who was The Cape when not in his civilian identity of Shoe Shine Boy.
- Hong Kong Phooey, a karate-chopping "number one super guy", with an equally humble secret identity, ordinary janitor Penrod Pooch.
- Super Goof, Goofy as The Cape.
- The Simpsons:
- In the episode "Homer's Enemy", has Mr. Burns make a dog his executive vice president, due to the dog pushing a baby from in front of a moving vehicle and pushing a criminal in front of it.
- Subverted with Santa's Little Helper, in the episode "Homer the Heretic", the house is on fire, Homer is asleep on the couch, Santa's Little Helper takes a candy bar from his pocket and escapes.
- Another aversion occurs in one episode where Bart gets stuck in some cement and Bart tells him to go for help he just sits there licks his face and walks away.
- When Homer is stuck in Bart's burning tree-house, he's saved by the Heroic Cat Snowball II instead when Santa's Little Helper runs away from the scene. For the most of the episode Homer starts spoiling Snowball and scolds the dog for being a coward.
- Spike from Rugrats, in the series' first episode, rescues Tommy and Chuckie from the vicious neighbor dog, showing from the very beginning how tough and heroic he could be when protecting 'his babies'. The best example of his heroism is when, in The Rugrats Movie , he tracks down the babies, that had been lost in the woods for a whole day and night, and when finding them, helps Tommy rescue Chuckie from a group of monkeys and later almost does an Heroic Sacrifice when rescuing them from a very large, hungry wolf.
- No wonder why in Rugrats Go Wild! , when he finally gets to talk thanks to Eliza Thornberry's powers, he got voiced by Bruce Badass Willis.
- Played to the extreme in Gargoyles, where the Gargoyle Bound Bronx, and later another hound from Avalon, who shows up at least twice, help their 'masters'. Bronx exhibits above-average intelligence for a dog - he's no astrophysicist, but can understand basic commands in human speech, and often helps pull his friends to safety. In one episode, Lexington and Brooklyn are trapped in electrified cages, as is Bronx. Out of boredom, Brooklyn pokes repeatedly at the bars, following each spark with a monotone "Ow". Lexington notices the lights flicker, and tells Bronx to escape; he and Brooklyn grab the bars, diverting enough power that Bronx can bend the bars of his cage and run off for help.
- Gargoyle Hounds in general are much smarter than canines, actually being about as smart as a chimpanzee.
- In Batman Beyond, Ace (not the Bat-Hound, just a normal dog) does his fair share of rescuing, and does it in the way you'd expect an ex-dog fight contender to do it.
Terry: (after Ace chases off a hyena Half-Human Hybrid) Good bad dog.
- In Garfield's Halloween Special, as Garfield and Odie jump into the lake to escape the evil ghosts chasing them, Garfield quickly sinks under and is swept away by the current (he can't swim). A frantic, whimpering Odie immediately dives underwater to find him and pulls him to safety. As they reach the shore, Garfield tells him with complete sincerity "I owe you one, old buddy". It's especially touching considering that Garfield is always ridiculing and tormenting Odie — he only even brought him along for trick-or-treating in order to get more candy for himself — yet Odie didn't hesitate to save him.
- When Courage the Cowardly Dog sees danger, he always cowers in fear. Then he always rescues his family, in spite of being scared.
- This trope is mentioned in "My Hero Zero" in Schoolhouse Rock's Multiplication Rock series.
- Naga from The Legend of Korra definitely counts...since she's a Heroic Polar Bear Dog.
- Jake from Adventure Time is a rather interesting case. He has magical shape-shifting abilities, but he's is usually too lazy and cowardly to use them to their fullest and is often a Jerk Ass. He still, however, accompanies his friend, Finn, and helps him on his quests.
- Poor, beleaguered Buttons from Animaniacs. He's undeniably heroic, charging into danger time and time again to rescue his charge, Mindy, (and getting comically beat up in the process.) He always delivers her home safely, but is usually admonished by his owner for some small infraction (like tracking mud in the house) instead of recognized for his efforts. (Although he does finally get acknowledged in Wakko's Wish.) At least Mindy still likes him. Silly puppy!
- "PAW Patrol": It's basically the whole point of the show.
- Brutally subverted in the Looney Tunes "Fresh Airedale" by Chuck Jones - a conniving dog (he lets in house burglars who pay him off with meat) sets himself up to look heroic, while the family cat, who is heroic, gets nothing but scorn.
- Also subverted in Tom Terrific. Tom's sidekick Mighty Manfred the Wonder Dog was a rather lazy dog with a big appetite who had no skills to speak of other than the ability to talk.
- Inverted with Dick Dastardly's sidekick Muttley. On Wacky Races, Dastardly and Muttley in Their Flying Machines and Yogi's Treasure Hunt, he's a villainous yet opportunistic chronic backstabber. In his own segment, Magnificent Muttley, he's a hero. At least in his own daydreams.
- A dog charged into traffic to rescue another dog that had been hit by a car. *sniff*...
- Cracked.com gives us 7 Dogs That Accomplished More Than We Ever Will. Particularly notable is number six on the list, who was reduced to a footnote in the story of Balto despite technically being the bigger badass (comparatively speaking). On a happier note, he and his team got huskies recognized as an official breed, and are now ancestors of most of the huskies in the US. Balto, on the other hand, had been neutered at a young age, and so contributed nothing to the bloodline.
- Twenty Five Heroic Dogs. Highlights include a bulldog that rescued a sack of kittens from a lake, a chihuahua who saved a toddler from a rattlesnake, a mutt who fought off pirates, and a blue heeler who fought an alligator. Caution: reading this page is likely to induce an urge to find the nearest dog and hug it.
- A Golden Retriever saved a boy from a cougar.
- A Jack Russell in New Zealand was killed protecting five children from a pair of aggressive pit bulls.
- An untrained German Shepherd saved his owner's house from being burnt down. The guy said that he needed help and the dog ran off and got it.
- Two wonderful books, "Dog Miracles" and "Puppy Miracles" depict the heroic exploits of numerous dogs. They will both bring you to tears.
- Go to a bookstore, a newspaper stand or a public library and pick up an issue of National Geographic Kids. In almost every trio of Amazing Animals stories, which is a section that is Exactly What It Says on the Tin, there's a story about a dog saving a person from something.
- Ace The Wonder Dog, who was not only a movie star but just as brave and heroic as the parts he played.
- Another real life example, this time a Rottweiler who chased off a scumbag who was attacking a woman. Good dog.
- And another who spent the entire night in a city park guarding a baby who had been accidentally abandoned by her irresponsible mother when she decided to go out drinking with some friends.
- Laika, the first animal in space.
- Just about any police dog or military dog would count as an example, but here are some standouts:
- There was Target, a female shepherd mix who saved the lives of dozens of U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan by alerting them to the presence of a suicide bomber. According to one of the soldiers, "She got her name because the Afghans we lived with were constantly trying to off her. She's been shot in the leg...The Afghans actually ran her over....There's no killing this dog for sure. She's pretty much been through it all." One of the soldiers adopted Target and brought her back home to Arizona with her. Unfortunately, Target subsequently disappeared from her new home, was picked up by Animal Control...and in a cruelly ironic twist, was accidentally euthanized by a shelter employee.
- Sir Peers Legh brought his English Mastiff along with him during the battle of Agincourt. He was wounded, and the dog protected him for hours until the battle was finally won. Legh never recovered from his injuries, but the dog returned to England and became one of the prime contributors to the modern breed. In Legh's home, a stained glass window depicting the knight and his dog can be found to this day. Oh yeah, it was a girl, too. One tough lady.
- Dogs that earned the Dickin Medal , the animal version of the Victoria Cross. Includes a German Shepherd who saved his handler from drowning while under heavy shell fire (it's not mentioned on the site, but the dog had made it to shore, realized his human was missing, and dived back in to find him), another German Shepherd who found Air Raid casualties in a burning building, a Pointer who's the only known canine POW, and two Boxers who attacked an armed man, saving the lives of two British officers and being both wounded in the process. Good dogs.
- Gander, a Newfoundland dog who was an army mascot in WWII, died after basically Jumping on a Grenade (specifically, he picked it up and ran off with it) to save his friends.
- Sergeant Stubby, the most decorated dog in WWI.
- Nemo A534, a German Shepherd who served in the United States Air Force during the Vietnam War and saved the life of his wounded handler despite sustaining gunshot wounds to his eye and nose.
- Another historical example; One of the first documented recordings of the Hovawart, a breed from Germany, comes from the year 1210 when the German castle Ordensritterburg was besieged by Slavic invaders. The castle fell and its inhabitants including the Lord were slaughtered, however the Lord's infant son was saved by one of the castle's Hovawarts. In spite of being wounded itself, the dog dragged the tiny child to a neighbouring castle and thus saved the boy's life.
- That boy, Eike von Repkow, grew up to be an extremely important administrator in medieval Germany and one of their most important early lawgivers. One of his laws required that the owner of a Hovawart had to be compensated whenever one was stolen or killed.
- A Badass Adorable called Smoky (aka "Yorkie Doodle Dandy"), a four pound, 7 inch high Yorkshire Terrier found in New Guinea who participated in twelve WW2 combat missions, was awarded eight battle stars, saved her human from being hit by incoming anti-aircraft shells, ran a communication line underground (saving the Army engineers three days of dangerous digging work), and became the first therapy dog in the US. Steve Rogers would be proud.
- Throughout 2014, there were a slew of embarrassing screw-ups by the Secret Service. In one incident, two Secret Service dogs named Jordan and Hurricane rushed a White House fence jumper and despite sustaining minor injuries, ultimately prevented him from getting into the residence. An article about the incident not only commended the dogs for their bravery, but snarked that the dogs were doing a better job than their human counterparts.
- A 7 year old Belgian Malinois named Diesel was killed during an anti-terrorism raid in Saint-Denis, outside of Paris, in the wake of the attacks that took place in November 2015.
- A Belgian Malinois dog named Cairo was among the group of elite Navy Seals that conducted the fateful raid on Osama bin Laden's compound. Considering that a police dog was among the many officers killed on 9/11, this practically doubles as either Laser-Guided Karma or a And This Is For... moment.
- Speaking of whom, Sirius was a 4-year old golden labrador, a bomb-detecting canine for the Port Authority Police Department. His partner, Officer David Lim, left him in his kennel in the basement of the South Tower when he dashed off to aid in evacuating the buildings, but promised to come back for him. He was unable to rescue him before the collapse (because he himself was trapped in the rubble of the North Tower), but he still kept his promise by returning to the site to search for victims. When Sirius' remains were found on January 22, 2002, he was given all the respect that had been bestowed to his human counterparts—the machines were silenced, his remains were draped with a flag, a priest said a prayer over him, and all those present saluted as he was carried to a police truck . A memorial service in April of 2002 was attended by 400 people, including 100 K-9 teams, two dog parks (one in Battery Park City, the other in New Jersey) were named after him, and he was awarded the Victoria Cross by the British Embassy.
- Other 9/11 examples:
- Omar Eduardo Rivera (who is blind) was on the 71st floor of the North Tower of the World Trade Center. Fearing that he would never make it down the stairs in time, he released his guide dog Dorado from his harness so that the animal might have a chance to escape. The dog came back, nudged and pawed at him until it was finally obvious he was not leaving without his master, and led him down 70 flights of stairs to safety.
- A nearly identical story played out with Micheal Hingson and his guide dog Roselle, detailed in the book Thunder Dog. When the pair appeared on Larry King Live a few weeks later to relate their story, King summed it up in four words: "She's a GOOD dog"
- To say nothing of the countless dogs who participated in the rescue and recovery efforts, one of whom, as mentioned above, found the last survivor, and the last of whom, a golden retriever named Bretagne, passed away on June 6, 2016. Read the book Dog Heroes of September 11 or do a Google search for more details.
- Chief, a pit bull in the Philippines, performed a Heroic Sacrifice to save two women in his master's household from a cobra while his master was at work. He stood between the women and the snake and killed it, sustaining a fatal bite. He clung to life long enough for his master to come home, just for a last glimpse and a wag of the tail.
- An absolutely wrenching example from Kazakhstan. When a drunken and possibly suicidal man passed out on railroad tracks, his dog was able to drag him to safety—but unable to avoid being hit himself.
- Kabang, a dog in the Philipines that saved 2 children from getting hit by a motorcycle at the cost of her upper jaw and nose.
- According to his collar, Delta saved his owner's life three times, the first time by dragging him from the water when he was drowning, the second when he fought off four attackers that had tried to rob him, and the third when he fought off a wolf attack. His final sacrifice was a tragically failed attempt to protect a small child from the Mount Vesuvius eruption that destroyed Pompeii and he was forever immortalized in his heroic endeavor in ash.
- Most of the stories on these Reddit pages, "Redittors whose lives were saved by an animal, what happened?" and "My bird saved my life. Reddit what has your pet done that changed your life completely?" are this. Warning: May include overwhelming Heartwarming Moments and tearjerkers.
- When a driver opened fired on another car in a road rage incident, an innocent woman and her three children were in the line of fire. The family dog, a German Shepherd named Noah, proceeded to perform a Heroic Sacrifice by placing himself in front of the kids, Taking the Bullet for them. Then, despite being riddled with gunshot wounds, he managed to leap from the car and tried to chase after the gunman before finally succumbing to his injuries.
- A rescued handicapped dog rescued a family from a house fire. Despite suffering from arthritis, the dog managed to climb up the stairs and wake up its owners before the fire fully engulfed their home.
- This Bernese Mountain dog who saved two people from drowning, despite absolutely no form of rescue training, clearly acting on nothing but instinct.
- Figo, a golden retriever service dog, threw himself in front of a school bus to protect his blind owner. Indeed, she suffered only a broken ankle while he took the brunt of the impact. Despite his own injuries, his primary concern was still her safety—witnesses report that both dog and human were very upset upon being separated to be taken to their respective hospitals.
- From medieval times up until the 1930s, an apocryphal faith in Saint Guinefort persisted in the vicinity of Lyon, France. Guinefort was alleged to be a greyhound which was killed by his noble master over a misunderstanding: the dog had been left alone with the man's infant son, and killed a snake that would have bitten the child. The knight, finding the empty cot overturned and the dog's jaws bloodied, thought the dog had eaten the baby and ran Guinefort through on the spot. Upon finding the dead snake and unharmed child moments later, he buried the dog in an old well and covered it over with a shrine; local peasants started reporting saintly miracles on the site of the dog's grave, soon after.
- There's an almost identical story from Wales, but it was a wolf instead of a snake. The dog's name in that version was Gelert, the master Prince Llywelyn of Gwynedd, and to this day there's a village in Gwynedd called Beddgelert (Gelert's Grave, probably actually named after a now-forgotten local saint) with a monument on the grave site recounting the legend.
- This beautiful golden labrador named Dayko, who rescued 7 people from earthquake wreckage before succumbing to heat stroke.
- In Serbia a dog named Leo saved a 10 year old girl from being attacked by a larger dog. When Leo saw the bigger dog push the girl to the ground he jumped in and started biting the bigger dog and allowed the girl to escape. Sadly Leo was killed by the other dog. There is a now a statue in a Serbian park of him that watches over the children playing. The plaque says "To all small heroes with big hearts." Good boy.