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Fifth Annual Dogs of Valor Awards: Meet the Finalists

  • Benny. Audrey Callaway

  • Buddy. Brenda Simuncak

  • Chowder. Steve Heaslip/Cape Cod Times

  • Fancy. Harley Falls

  • Hank. Rose Brooks Center

  • Hercules. Robert (Lee) Littler III

  • Mickey. Debbie Denning

  • Quila. The Lamb Family

  • Titan. Jeff Benton

  • Trixie. Danny Drawbaugh

The votes have been counted: Meet the winners of the Fifth Dogs of Valor and People's Hero Awards



Owner: Audrey Calloway
Mount Washington, Ky.

Last summer as Audrey mowed her 2.5 acre yard, her Labrador retriever, Benny, played near the house. As Audrey mowed the hill that ran beside the ditch and highway in front of her home, the mower’s plastic seat broke and slid off throwing Audrey into the path of the mower. Her left hand was completely severed. Bleeding profusely, Audrey crawled toward the road, collapsing in the ditch with her head on the side of the road. Benny dashed over and planted himself in the middle of the highway. A driver on his way to visit neighbors saw Benny and called them to see if the dog was theirs. Then he spotted Audrey. She was taken to the hospital, where they were able to save the rest of her arm.


Owner: Ted Moss
South Milwaukee, Wisc.

Late one night during a blizzard, Ted’s truck became lodged in a snow bank, so he and his 5-year old Labrador retriever, Buddy, headed home on foot. Two miles in and only two blocks from home, Ted collapsed. Buddy kept him warm, barking nonstop. Around 5:00 a.m., a concerned neighbor tried to bring her inside. She led him to Ted whose core body temperature was 68°, and his clothes were frozen to his body. At the hospital, his heart stopped twice. After a week, Ted finally opened his eyes—when he heard Buddy whine the first time she was allowed to visit him.


Owners: Diana and Richard Carlino
Centerville, Mass.

Diana Carlino and her husband Richard were awakened by Chowder’s barking and agitation early one April morning. As she started to get up, Diana saw through her window that her elderly neighbor was clinging to her doorframe, her home in flames. The Carlinos rescued their neighbor moments before two windows exploded from the fire. The Carlinos credit Chowder not only with alerting them to their neighbor’s danger but also for saving their home from catching fire, too. The fire was so close the heat warped the siding on their house.


Owners: Harley and Virginia Falls
Blue Creek, W. Va.

Fifteen minutes before their alarm was set to go off, 3-year-old Fancy woke Harley and Virginia with barks and growls. Harley and Virginia couldn’t find anything wrong in the house, but the little dachshund continued to bark and look up at the attic door. Virginia then noticed a sound like crumbling aluminum foil. Opening the attic door, she was hit by smoke and flames. Virginia grabbed Fancy, woke her nephew and his girlfriend, and everyone escaped. By 9 a.m.—the time the alarm was set to go off—the roof of their farmhouse had caved in.


Owner: McKenzie
Kansas City, Mo.

McKenzie’s raging boyfriend threw her through a wall and hit her with a hammer. When Hank, McKenzie’s young Great Dane, crawled on her to block the blows, the man turned on Hank, shattering several ribs and a hip. He dragged the gravely injured dog into a busy street and left him for dead. Back at the house, the man told McKenzie that if she called her dog he would shoot them both. McKenzie escaped to drive to a police station, her attacker following with a shotgun. McKenzie and Hank received treatment and were reunited at an emergency shelter for victims of violent families.


Owners: Lee and Elizabeth Littler
Hillsboro, Ohio

As Lee opened the back door to let the dogs out, he was taken aback to see Hercules, the sickly St. Bernard he’d adopted only 6 hours before, growl and charge through the screen door. Hercules then jumped off the side of the porch and over the outdoor stairwell leading to the basement. The next minute, he chased a man out of the basement and across the yard, biting his leg as he escaped over the fence. When the police arrived, they discovered that the intruder had already cut the phone and cable lines.


Owner: Debbie Denning (Daughter is Codi Robertson, baby Wyatt)
Idaho Falls, Idaho

Seven months pregnant, Codi was feeling nauseated and decided to sleep on the couch. In the early morning hours, she had a seizure. She remembers calling out to her mother, Debbie, just before passing out. Debbie was asleep and couldn’t hear, but Mickey sprang into action and woke her. Debbie rushed Codi to the hospital, where her baby was delivered two months prematurely. If Mickey hadn’t acted quickly, both Codi and baby Wyatt could have died.


Owners: Terry and Clare Lamb
Calera, Ala.

Clare had been under the weather and was resting in bed. Suddenly Quila, began scratching Clare’s son Andrew’s leg and turning to the door. Andrew got his father, Terry, and they followed Quila into the bedroom. They found Clare hanging off the bed, her nails and lips blue and her skin pale and ice cold. At the hospital, she was diagnosed with a grand mal seizure and pneumonia. Clare was told that another 5 to 10 minutes without medical attention, probably would have killed her. Now that she’s back home, Quila never leaves her side.


Owners: John and Gloria Benton
Lawrenceville, Ga.

Leaving for the family store every morning, John tells his 5-year old pit bull, “Go take care of Grandma!” Then Titan curls up on the bed where Gloria is sleeping. But one morning last July, Titan ran back down the stairs. John says, “He’d run up a few flights of steps and run back down just to keep me from going to let me know something was wrong.” John found his wife unconscious on the floor with a bleeding head. Doctors said that Gloria had suffered a brain aneurysm and fractured her skull—and that had John not found her then, she would probably have suffered brain damage or died.


Owner: Ida Moose
Little Rock, Ark.

One cold night, 78-year-old Ida and her elderly Cairn terrier mix, Trixie, went through the rain to fill the backyard bird feeder, when Ida collapsed face-down in the mud. The blind Trixie barked, but nobody came to help. Ida used a technique a physical therapist had taught her and “log rolled” to her house, but she couldn’t reach the doorknob. Trixie kept Ida warm for nearly 20 hours until someone heard her pleas for help. Doctors said Ida probably had a stroke and that it’s likely she wouldn’t have survived the night if Trixie hadn’t kept her warm.

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