Heroes come in all shapes and sizes... and species and breeds. We've rounded up 10 courageous canines that have made headlines over the years for their acts of bravery. -- Compiled by Hannah Siegel
Maverick, a Nassau County police dog, was honored for going above the call of duty in 2010 during an investigation in which a suspected heroin dealer in Hempstead fled the scene. The 80-pound German shepherd fought and chased away another dog that outweighed him by more than 30 pounds. That dog had attacked him as Maverick was detaining the suspect. Although Maverick was wounded, he returned to the scene and helped K-9 Police Officer Michael LaSala in the arrest. The pup was treated for his wounds by a veterinarian and released back to the job. He was called a hero for his actions by Nassau County Executive Edward Mangano and given a bone as a reward.
He was the runt of the litter when the Michelsen family first adopted him, but now this black Labrador and pit bull mix is standing on his own four paws, truly a hero. Odin saved his family in 2003 when he alerted Jillian Michelsen, then 20, to a fire in her brother Ryan Michelsen's room by barking incessantly. When Jillian and a friend went to investigate, they saw flames and smoke pouring out of Ryan's room. Her family was able to get out but Ryan was hospitalized for smoke inhalation and carbon monoxide poisoning. Their uncle sustained first-degree burns to his back when he tried to put out the fire. However, everyone acknowledged, had Odin not alerted the family to the fire, things could have been much worse, as there were no smoke alarms in the house. While the Michelsens were left with few possessions, they made a point to say that Odin was definitely getting a big bone as a reward for his heroic efforts.
Carol Swinson credits her dog, Bear, with saving her life after a fire in her Brentwood home in 2013. Her then-newly-adopted 145-pound dog woke her before sunrise that morning by jumping on her and panting in her face, alerting her to the fire that had started and spread to the second floor, where her bedroom is. Luckily, she, Bear and her grandson, D.J., were able to escape the fire. Swinson recounted how she adopted Bear to replace her previous dog, who had suffered a seizure during superstorm Sandy and had to be euthanized. Bear, a-then-3-year-old Neapolitan mastiff-cane corso mix, was found wandering the streets of Oakdale, presumably abandoned by his owner, before Swinson adopted him.
"He was meant for me," Swinson said of her dog. "He saved my life."
Roxanne helped save the day -- and her family's life -- when a fire broke out in the Herlihy family home in Huntington in 2014. Homeowner Michael Herlihy said the English bulldog began barking in his adult son's bedroom until he woke up and alerted his parents. The three fled their Dumbarton Drive home, where flames were consuming the first and second floors, until firefighters could arrive. It took about 50 firefighters from Huntington, Halesite, Cold Spring Harbor, Huntington Manor and Greenlawn to battle the blaze, which left the home uninhabitable, but no one was injured. It was later determined to be an electrical fire. Huntington Fire Chief Robert Berry told the Herlihys' son that Roxanne was the one who saved his life.
Louie, North Merrick
Louie, pictured here on April 3, 2013, helped save the life of his pregnant owner when the dog discovered her having a seizure. Louie's owner, Richard Giannetta, was alarmed when he heard Louie barking incessantly and went to investigate. It was then that he discovered his pregnant wife, Janelle Giannetta, having a seizure and rushed her to Nassau University Medical Center. She was diagnosed with eclampsia, a potentially deadly condition in which a pregnant woman develops very high blood pressure, causing seizures and potentially a stroke. She had a Caesarean section and Louie's little human sister, Charlotte Marie, was born, weighing a mere 1 pound, 7 ounces. While the Giannettas praised the emergency medical technicians and the hospital for saving their premature daughter, Dr. Peter Hong, chief of NUMC's high risk pregnancy service, said "the dog is the real hero."
Foxy, Fort Salonga
Joan Maguire had adopted a new dog, Foxy, from the pound only a year before the pup saved her life. She and Foxy went for a walk late at night in winter. When Joan fell and broke her hip near her steps, Foxy lay across her chest to keep her warm in subfreezing temperatures, barking to attract a neighbor who called an ambulance. Maguire and Foxy are pictured here on June 4, 2003.
Bullet, a 16-year-old golden retriever from Bellport, was named the Kibbles 'n Bits 48th Dog Hero of the Year in 2003. The year before, Bullet saved 3-week-old Troy Joseph Sica by alerting the baby's parents, Troy and Pam Sica, that he had stopped breathing. Just two years earlier, the Sicas borrowed $5,000 to save Bullet, who needed surgery to remove a liver tumor. Ultimately, the Sicas saved their dog, and the dog returned the favor by saving their son.
Chase, a German shepherd police dog, was called a hero in 2012 for his part in a search and rescue of a 76-year-old East Setauket doctor, Jerome Nadler, who had gone missing while fly fishing on Labor Day. Nadler was found semiconcious, dehydrated and wearing fishing waders in Caleb Smith State Park Preserve in Smithtown, after a three-day search by police. Two police officers, Sam Barreto and William Krolikewicz, said Chase first found a bottle of gel used by fly fishermen on their lures. Then, 50 feet away, the dog found Nadler.
Smooch, a border collie from Amityville, acted as a lifeguard when he alerted his owners, Randy and Christine Ronback, to kayakers in distress in the water outside of their home. Christine, in turn, alerted her husband, who got in their boat to save them. Smooch is pictured here with the Ronbacks in their boat in 2007.
Daisy, South Huntington
Eight-year-old Katarina Scholz woke up to the insistent scratching and barking of her bull mastiff, Daisy, at 4 a.m. one morning in 2006 -- only to see her entire bedroom engulfed in flames. She jumped from her bed and followed her dog out of the bedroom, alerting the rest of her family to the fire. A Huntington Manor Fire Department chief said it took 75 firefighters to put out the blaze. While no injuries were reported, two of the family's Chihuahuas died in the fire. While most of her home was severely damaged from the fire and the rest of the structure ruined by smoke and water, Katarina Scholz's mother, Teresa Scholz, tried to make the best of the situation.
"Daisy is definitely going to get filet mignon for dinner, and Katarina can have as much ice cream as she wants," she said with a laugh. "My husband always yelled at the dog for going in the flower beds, but now we're going to build one just for her. She deserves it."