More Hero Pets

Whether they help us through an emotionally difficult time or physically rescue us, pets can be not only our best

Whether they help us through an emotionally difficult time or physically rescue us, pets can be not only our best friends, but lifesavers, too.

If your pet has an amazing story, email it, along with a photo of you and your pet, to [email protected].
Your pet could be featured in a future issue of RD or on rd.com. (By submitting you agree that materials can be edited and published in all media without restrictions.)

Cat Thwarts a Cat Burglar

I was up late (1:00 a.m.) and decided to cover my geraniums, since a hard frost was predicted for that night. When I came in, I didn’t lock the door (big mistake). A few minutes later I thought I maybe heard something outside, but didn’t think much of it. Frankie Joe, my cat, came running over to me, and looked up at me. He was running in place as he nervously looked back and forth between me and the back storm door.

“What is it Frankie Joe? What’s wrong?” I asked him. I ran to look out the back door. When I got there, a man with a stocking cap pulled down low was right at my back step. Once he saw me, he took off running. There is no doubt in my mind that given a minute more, that man would have entered my home. Frankie Joe saved my life and ever since that day, his official name became Frankie Joe, the Hero Cat.

–Submitted by Sandi Arnold, Normal, Illinois

A True Treasure
My horse, Treasure, is my hero because she helped me discover how to relate to her. In the process, she “fixed” my relationship with my husband and my children.

I have had horses all my life. I was very good at manipulating them, with ropes, bits, bats and spurs, and making them do what I wanted. Everyone knows you have to show the horse who is boss.

Well, I was also a lot like this in my personal life, very demanding, very authoritarian, very one-sided.

When I got this mare, she was a fiery 2-year-old, with no handling. She was not going to accept any type of dictatorship from me. In the interest of not getting myself killed, I started to read and educate myself on ways to manage a high-spirited horse. I had a lifetime of experience: I had been raising and breaking horses since I was a teen, and I had never encountered another creature who would not bend to my will.

I discovered natural horsemanship, a method of training that focuses on communication. In order to communicate with another person, you must be understood. The very definition of understanding is two or more individuals sharing the same idea. This simple definition had a big impact on me. I realized (suddenly, after twenty years) that communication is a two-way street!

When I started applying natural horsemanship concepts to my life, I noticed a change in the way other people related to me. My husband, when I stopped ordering him around, became happier and more helpful. My children, when I practiced being fair, firm and most of all, consistent, were motivated to respond sooner, at the polite request from me rather than the orders I used to issue.

I think the most valuable life skill I learned from my horse is that pressure motivates, but release teaches. As soon as I incorporated these basic skills into my daily activities, I started to notice positive changes. My children were more considerate of each other, and stared to ask first, without telling. I became acutely aware of my position as role model.

My extreme mare was not hard to catch, she would stand grooming and saddling without being tied and she was much safer to have around my children. This positive effect snowballed on a daily basis. Today, five years later, I have the perfect horse. I also have very polite, considerate kids and a very happy husband. There is nothing in the world that can compare to being adored by the ones you love most — even if it all started with the attitude of a very special horse.

–Submitted by Nancy Faulconer, Naples, Florida A Hero and an Angel

Rick and Vicki Tarter of Wake Village, Texas, had recently lost their beloved boxer to cancer when they applied to our organization, BoxAR Rescue, asking to adopt a boxer dog. BoxAR Rescue is a 501c3 not-for-profit organization in central Arkansas dedicated to saving the lives of neglected/abused/thrown-away boxers and adopting them into loving homes. These homes are very carefully screened to be sure that the dogs will not be put right back into similar, sad situations again. The Tarters were no exception. They completed our application, and went through a home visit which was done by one of our volunteers who visited them and evaluated the family and the home.

The Tarters passed all of our stringent requirements to adopt a dog. They came to Arkansas in early April and took home Odie, a boxer that apparently closely resembled their deceased pet. We fell in love with Rick and Vicki from the start; they were a warm and loving couple who obviously would give Odie the home he was needing.

Odie had been pulled from the Little Rock Animal Shelter several months earlier. We didn’t get much history on him; I’m not sure if he was stray or if he was owner-surrendered. But Odie was past his “due out” date when he was “sprung” from the shelter. He would have been euthanized if he had not been rescued.

He was then evaluated by a vet and was proclaimed to be in good health. He was neutered and then brought to our boarding kennel, where we fattened him up, evaluated his temperament and began searching for the perfect home for this boy. His color was a deep, red fawn. He had a black mask and beautiful, large brown eyes. Odie was a very handsome boxer and even better than that, he was a very NICE boxer. He got along well with every person and every dog he met, although he really preferred not to keep company with cats! We were thrilled when the Tarters came along and were very happy when they chose Odie and took him home.

As our contract states, Vicki took Odie to her veterinarian to have him evalulated soon after they got him home. To our surprise, Odie was positive for heartworms. It doesn’t happen very often, but if the test is done early in the disease, it can produce false negative results. Odie was given the painful and risky injection to kill the heartworms and then he was kept very still and quiet at home with the Tarters as is required after receiving this shot.

After a month, he was taken back to his vet to be checked and was free of the heartworms. Life was just beginning again for Odie, and Rick and Vicki had fallen head over heels in love with this sweet boy. We were thrilled that he was living “the good life.” But as often happens, it didn’t last long.

On July 5, 2005, Rick and Vicki were away from home. Their teenage son was sleeping and somehow a fire broke out in the house. Odie quickly woke the boy up and alerted him to the fire. When the son tried to get Odie to come out of the house, Odie would not follow. Instead, he went to Rick and Vicki’s room, presumably to be sure they were not in the house. The fire was too hot and the son was unable to get Odie out.

Odie died in that fire that day. The house was a total loss, but when Vicki called me the following day, it was Odie she was crying for. She told me how she had grown to love him; how sweet and loving he was. Vicki was obviously still in shock over her losses. She was in a motel room and as we spoke, the authorities were at the ruins of her home, trying to figure out what caused the horrible fire.

It is so ironic to me that Odie was saved from death by a needle and he saved the life of one of the humans who loved him. I don’t know what Odie’s life was like before he found himself in the shelter, but I know he was very loved and well cared for in the short time he lived with the Tarters. I truly believe Odie became a hero the same day he became an angel.

— Sandra Clement, director, BoxAR Rescue, Ward, Arkansas
www.boxarrescue.org

Originally Published in Reader's Digest

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